Dr Louise Belfield

Dr Louise Belfield

Associate Professor of Biomedical and Oral Health Sciences (Education)

Peninsula Dental School (Faculty of Health)



I am a dental nurse and a lecturer in biomedical sciences. My key roles are to lead the development of the life science curriculum in our innovative BSc Dental Therapy & Hygiene programme, specifically focused on inter-professional education, and to lead research activities in both education and scientific fields. 

I first became involved with Dentistry when I began working as a dental nurse in 2001, spending 3 years in general practice, followed by 4 years working as a locum in dental specialties at South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.  I have always been fascinated by how bacteria in the mouth can exert effects in other sites in the body, and so both my undergraduate dissertation and my PhD focused on the role of one particular bacterium, Porphyromonas gingivalis, in modulating the host immune response. I continue to study the role of this particular bacterium in oral and systemic diseases as part of our Oral Microbiome Research Group at Peninsula Dental School. 


2001 - NEBDN National Certificate in Dental Nursing
2008 - BSc (Hons) Human Biosciences
2013 - PhD "Interactions between Porphyromonas gingivalis and macrophages in oral pathology"
2014 - Post graduate Certificate in Clinical Education

Professional membership

International Association for Dental Research

British Society for Oral and Dental Research
British Microcirculation Society
General Dental Council
Senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Roles on external bodies

Councillor: British Society for Oral and Dental Research

Committee member: Association of Science Educators in Dentistry

Trustee / Director: National Examination board for Dental Nurses



Teaching interests

My subject specialties are:
  • Biomedical Sciences including immunology, cell biology, cell signalling and microbiology. 
  • Dental nursing including infection control, decontamination and antimicrobial resistance.
  • Inter-professional education for undergraduate dental professions.

My current roles within the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry include: 

  • BSc Dental Therapy and Hygiene with Integrated Foundation Year
  • Integrated Dental Science 1 Module lead, BSc Dental Therapy and Hygiene and Bachelor of Dental Surgery
  • Lecturer: BSc Dental Therapy and Hygiene Bachelor of Dental Surgery, BSc (hons) Biomedical Sciences, BSc (hons) Nutrition, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery.
  • Curriculum development (Science): Developing the UKs first, fully integrated DTH/BDS programme.
  • Widening Participation lead for Dentistry

Staff serving as external examiners

Cardiff University: BSc Dental Therapy and Dental Hygiene (years 2 and 3)



Research interests

Current research focuses on both scientific and educational elements required for excellence in research informed teaching. My major research interests lie in how oral bacteria can modulate the normal function of the immune system and drive conditions that lead to development of oral and systemic diseases, such as chronic periodontitis, oral cancer, and hypertension, as part of the Oral Microbiome Research Group: https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/research/biomedical-research-group/oral-microbiome-research-group

Current projects include: 
  • Modulation of osteoclast differentiation and activity by endotoxin tolerance
  • Modelling single infections and dual biofilms of Candida albicans and Staphylococcus aureus on three-dimensional oral mucosal models
  • Effects of mechanical strain on mesenchymal stem cell fate
  • Regulation of tumour angiogenesis in response to periodontal bacteria
  • Investigating the role of the oral microbiome in regulation of blood pressure



Key publications

Key publications are highlighted

Brookes ZLS, Belfield LA, Ashworth A, Casas-Agustench P, Raja M, Pollard AJ & Bescos R (2021) 'Effects of chlorhexidine mouthwash on the oral microbiome' Journal of Dentistry 113, Publisher Site , DOI Open access
Brookes ZLS, Bescos R, Belfield LA, Ali K & Roberts A (2020) 'Current uses of chlorhexidine for management of oral disease: a narrative review' Journal of Dentistry 103, 103497-103497 Publisher Site , DOI Open access
Bescos R, Brookes ZLS, Belfield LA, Fernandez-Sanjurjo M & Casas-Agustench P (2020) 'Modulation of oral microbiota: A new frontier in exercise supplementation' PharmaNutrition 14, 100230-100230 , DOI Open access
Bescos R, Casas-Agustench P, Belfield L, Brookes Z & Gabaldón T (2020) 'Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Emerging and Future Challenges for Dental and Oral Medicine' Journal of Dental Research 99, (9) 1113-1113 , DOI Open access
Ali K, Cockerill J, Bennett JH, Belfield L & Tredwin C (2020) 'Transfer of Basic Sciences Knowledge in a Problem‐Based Learning Curriculum' European Journal of Dental Education , DOI Open access
Bescos R, Ashworth A, Cutler C, Brookes ZL, Belfield L, Rodiles A, Casas-Agustench P, Farnham G, Liddle L & Burleigh M (2020) 'Effects of Chlorhexidine mouthwash on the oral microbiome' Scientific Reports 10, (1) 0-0 , DOI Open access
Bennett JH, Beeley JA, Anderson P, Belfield L, Brand HS, Didilescu AC, Dymock D, Guven Y, Hector MP & Holbrook P (2020) 'A core curriculum in the biological and biomedical sciences for dentistry' European Journal of Dental Education 24, (3) 433-441 , DOI
Mcilwaine C, Strachan A, Harrington Z, Jerreat M, Belfield LA, Sandor V, Foey A & Zaric S (2019) 'Comparative analysis of total salivary lipopolysaccharide chemical and biological properties with periodontal status' Archives of Oral Biology 110, 104633-104633 , DOI Open access
Zahra D, Bennett J, Belfield L, Ali K, McIlwaine C, Bruce M, Jones G, Brookes ZL, Coelho C & Zaric S (2019) 'Effect of Constant versus Variable Small-Group Facilitators on Student Basic Science Knowledge in an Enquiry-Based Dental Curriculum' European Journal of Dental Education 0, (ja) Author Site , DOI Open access
McIlwaine C, Brookes ZLS, Zahra D, Ali K, Zaric S, Jones G & Belfield LA (2019) 'A novel, integrated curriculum for dental hygiene-therapists and dentists' British Dental Journal 226, 67-67 Author Site Open access
Strachan A, Harrington Z, McIlwaine C, Jerreat M, Belfield LA, Kilar A, Jackson SK, Foey A & Zaric S (2018) 'Subgingival lipid A profile and endotoxin activity in periodontal health and disease' Clinical Oral Investigations Author Site , DOI Open access
Zahra D, Belfield L, Bennett J, Zaric S & Mcilwaine C (2018) 'The benefits of integrating dental and dental therapy and hygiene students in undergraduate curricula' European Journal of Dental Education Author Site , DOI Open access
Belfield LA, Bennett JH, Abate W & Jackson SK (2017) 'Exposure to Porphyromonas gingivalis LPS during macrophage polarisation leads to diminished inflammatory cytokine production' Archives of Oral Biology 81, 41-47 , DOI Open access
Zaric S & Belfield LA (2015) 'Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) with Immediate Feedback in Early (Preclinical) Stages of the Dental Curriculum' Creative Education 06, (06) 585-593 , DOI Open access
Merry R, Belfield L, McArdle P, McLennan A, Crean S & Foey A (2012) 'Oral health and pathology: a macrophage account' Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg 50, (1) 2-7 Author Site , DOI Open access
Belfield L & Ali K (2019) 'Immune System' in Ali K; Prabhakar E Essential Physiology for Dental Students John Wiley & Sons
Belfield L (2016) 'Dental plaque and calculus' in Creanor S Essential Clinical Oral Biology John Wiley & Sons 136-143
Zahra D, Belfield L, McIlwaine C, Ali KAMRAN, Bennett JH & Zaric S Zahra D, Belfield L, McIlwaine C, Ali KAMRAN, Bennett JH & Zaric S 'Exploring the relationships between knowledge and skills assessments in Dental Therapy and Hygiene students as a function of prior qualifications' Open access


Conferences organised

British Society of Oral and Dental Research National Conference, 6 - 8th September, 2017.
Oral Microbiology and Immunology Group Postgraduate residential scientific meeting, Gregynog, Wales, 2016.
Oral Microbiology and Immunology Group Postgraduate meeting, Newcastle University, 26th April 2012