Does eating refined or unrefined sugar and rice change the oral microbiome?

High School
Fairfield, Iowa
Raised of $2,950 Goal
Ended on 10/10/17
Campaign Ended
  • $84
  • 3%
  • Finished
    on 10/10/17

About This Project

Sweetness in the form of sugar gives us so much happiness that we can't miss it in life. At the same time, we don't want to risk getting dental damage and other health issues. Based on many observations, my hypothesis is that unrefined sugar and whole grains will cause less change in the healthy microbiome compared to the refined white sugar and refined grains. This research study will help the public to make the right choice of sugar they want to use on a daily basis.

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What is the context of this research?

For the past four years as part of my school Science Fair project, I have been doing research on dental damaging bacteria in the oral microbiome. It is now understood that increased dental damaging bacteria levels are caused by an imbalance or change in the oral microbiome. There are no studies that show a direct link between the type of sugar a person ingests and how that affects their oral microbiome. In this study we will give people desserts made with different kinds refined or unrefined sugar and refined and unrefined grains, and measure the microbiome of the subjects before and after.

What is the significance of this project?

Completely cutting out refined free sugars and carbs is not easy for the general public, in spite of epidemiological studies linking them to the occurrence of diabetes, obesity, cardio diseases and dental caries. Moreover, there is no study directly linking the change in oral microbiome upon eating free sugars. Most of these studies are in-vitro, epidemiological and cross-sectional studies including surveys data from communities and countries. A strong negative correlation with sugar consumption is also reported.

All these factors prompted me to carry out this study which can help public to decide on the type of sugar to be used. Moreover this could be the first study of this kind.

What are the goals of the project?

I have conducted the two trails of experiment with 75 subjects involving school children in India.

Group 1: Control

Group 2: White Rice, Refined white Sugar

Group 3: White Rice, Refined white Sugar + Mouthwash

Group 4: Red Rice, Unrefined Sugar (Jaggery)

Group 5: Red Rice, Unrefined Sugar (Jaggery) + Mouthwash

The subjects will do oral cleaning and will eat one of the rice (Red or white) cooked with sugar (refined or unrefined) as a pudding. After eating the sweet, groups 3 and 5 will use a charcoal mouthwash to adsorb sugar. Saliva and dental biofilm samples will be collected before and after 3 hours of eating the sweet, and then will be analyzed for change in oral microbiome (metagenomics) and also on the levels of fermented sugars (metabolomics).


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I have no external support other than my family who has been funding my work for the past 4 years. This year I would like to use more samples for Next Generation sequencing (both bacteria -phase-1 and if possible Fungi also in phase 2) and metabolomics to get a statistically significant data. I have two labs giving me a good discount for the analysis, but the cost is still too high for me to do without your support. With the support from the public, I will be able to successfully do the research and give back for the community's benefit to know the truth about refined and unrefined sugar and carbohydrates impact on oral microbiome. This funding will help me to analyze the trial one samples.

Endorsed by

I am really excited for this project. I believe it will answer critical questions in this field of study.

Flag iconProject Timeline

Experiment completing my September.

Metagenomic analysis by October

Metabolomics analysis by November

Results analysis in December 2017 and ready by January 2018. Plan to present it in INTEL Science Fair in March to May 2018. Publication in a research journal in 2018.

Aug 31, 2017

Conduct Experiment with Subjects

Sep 10, 2017

Project Launched

Sep 30, 2017

DNA Extraction  

Oct 31, 2017

Metagenomic Analysis 

Nov 30, 2017

Metabolomics Analysis 

Meet the Team

Pranav Chhaliyil
Pranav Chhaliyil

Team Bio

I have a team of scientists helping in techniques, sequencing and metabolomics analysis. Some of them will directly supervise my project to make sure my experimental design and data interpretation are scientifically sound.

Bernd Schoel and Pradheep Chhalliyil at Genetic ID NA INC.

Kael Fischer at ubiota INC

Vicki Schlegel at University of Kansas

Pranav Chhaliyil

I am a Sophomore at Maharishi School, Fairfield, Iowa. I love science, traveling around the world, fashion, cooking, photography, painting (oil painting, glass painting, Indian mural painting), collecting quotes, and doing community service. In my free time I research the oral microbiome. I hope that through Science I can help solve day to day problems and improve people's lives. See my complete profile in

Additional Information

My website has more information on my previous research, and also the regional, state, and international recognition I have received four times the Iowa State Grand Champion Award (2014 to 2017) and 4th (2016) and 3rd place (2017) in Microbiology at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. I was also BIOGENIOUS international finalist and title winner of Gene Pool competition (2017)

There is also information on my entrepreneurial and community welfare work abroad.

Project Backers

  • 4Backers
  • 3%Funded
  • $84Total Donations
  • $21.00Average Donation
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