Dental Science Takes Another Step Towards Growing Teeth

Dental Science Growing TeethThe loss of a tooth can be a major setback to an adult dental patient. Although dental implants are available, some dental patients risk bad osseo-integration.

But what if a dentist could help the patient grow a replacement tooth instead?

Researchers in the group of Professor Irma Thesleff at the Institute of Biotechnology in Helsinki, Finland have now found a marker for dental stem cells.

They showed that the transcription factor Sox2 is specifically expressed in stem cells of the mouse incisor (front tooth).

The mouse incisor grows continuously throughout life and this growth is fueled by stem cells located at the base of the tooth. These cells offer an excellent model to study dental stem cells.

To build a tooth, a detailed recipe to instruct cells to differentiate towards proper lineages and form dental cells is needed.

Despite the development of new bioengineering protocols, building a tooth from stem cells remains a distant goal. Demand for it exists as loss of teeth affects oral health, quality of life, as well as one’s appearance.

To build a tooth, a detailed recipe to instruct cells to differentiate towards proper lineages and form dental cells is needed. However, the study of stem cells requires their isolation and a lack of a specific marker has hindered studies so far.

The researchers developed a method to record the division, movement, and specification of these cells. By tracing the descendants of genetically labeled cells, they also showed that Sox2 positive stem cells give rise to enamel-forming ameloblasts as well as other cell lineages of the tooth.

Although human teeth don’t grow continuously, the mechanisms that control and regulate their growth are similar as in mouse teeth. Therefore, the discovery of Sox2 as a marker for dental stem cells is an important step toward developing a complete bioengineered tooth.

“In the future, it may be possible to grow new teeth from stem cells to replace lost ones,” says researcher Emma Juuri, a co-author of the study.

What do you think about the ability to regrow an adult tooth?  Do you think it will happen in your lifetime?

(Source: AlphaGalileo and the University of Helsinki.)

Science Friday: Will Dentists See The End to Cavities in Their Lifetime?

Science Friday: Will Dentists See The End to Cavities in Their Lifetime?Dentists may see the end to cavities in their lifetime.

At least this is what researchers José Córdoba from Yale University and Erich Astudillo from the University of Chile are hoping will happen.

These two researchers have uncovered a new molecule that kills the bacteria that causes cavities in just 60 seconds.

The new molecule is named Keep 32, after the 32 teeth in the human mouth.

Córdoba and Astudillo report that the molecule can be added to dental care products, telling Diario Financiero Online, “The molecule can not only be incorporated into a gum, but in products like toothpastes, mouthwashes, dental floss, candies, lollipops, dental night gel and others who items that can be kept inside the mouth for at least 60 seconds.”

The 60 second time frame is what’s needed to kill all the Streptococcus Mutans bacteria. The Strep-Mutans bacteria converts sugar in the mouth to lactic acid which eats away at tooth enamel.

Reasearchers remain optomistic, with having completed seven years of successful testing and are now set to start human trials. They further hope that products will be available on the consumer market in about 14 to 18 months if everything continues as planned.

Studies have revealed that more than 1/4 of U.S. children between ages 2 and 5 suffer from severe tooth decay with no end in sight for this trend, but if dentists can get these at-risk kids to at least chew a special gum after they eat, they may be able to reverse the cavity epidemic in pediatric dental care.

Dentists, do you think you will see the end to cavities in your lifetime?

For more on this story see: Can “Keep 32” Chemical Keep You Cavity-free?

Science Friday: Poor Oral Hygiene Linked to Higher Cancer Risk?

Science Friday: Poor Oral Hygiene Linked to Higher Cancer Risk?An observational Swedish study has revealed that out of almost 1400 people studied between 1985 and 2009 where 35 of the participants died of cancer, the cancer patients had higher levels of dental plaque than the survivors, as reported by Time.com.

The researchers at the Karolinska Institute and the University of Helsinki revealed that participants in the study with high levels of dental plaque were 80% more likely to die prematurely of cancer during the 24-year study period than people with little to no dental plaque.

According to the Austrailian News, the study authors wrote, “Our study hypothesis was confirmed by the finding that poor [mouth] hygiene, as reflected in the amount of dental plaque, was associated with increased cancer mortality.”

The reasearchers have not determined that bad oral hygiene actually causes cancer, but state that what they found was only observational. But they warn that plaque could be a contributing factor in people with existing genetic predispositions to cancer.

“We don’t know if dental plaque could be a real causal part of cancer,” lead author Birgitta Soder of the department of dental sciences at the Karolinska Institute tells Time.com. “But it is a little scary to see that something we all have in our mouths can play such a role.”

What are your thoughts? Do you think poor oral hygiene can contribute to a higher cancer risk?

Read more at: Got Plaque? It May Be Linked with Early Cancer Death

Oral Health Research Claims High-fluoride Massage Prevents Tooth Decay by 400%

Oral Health Research Claims High-fluoride Massage Prevents Tooth Decay by 400%New oral health research claims that massaging teeth with a high-fluoride toothpaste  increases protection against tooth decay by 400%, according to a report by Anna Nordström, a dentist and researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

A new brand of toothpaste was launched 8 years ago in Sweden with more than 3 times as much fluoride as standard toothpaste.

The toothpaste is available to the public without prescription and is aimed primarily at those at high risk for tooth decay.

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Academy have now performed the first scientific evaluation of the effect of this so-called “high-fluoride toothpaste.”  The study has resulted in a new method that offers dental patients 4 times the level of protection from fluoride.

In the study, 16 volunteers tested a variety of brushing techniques, using either high-fluoride or standard toothpaste, and brushing either 2 or 3 times a day.

“The study revealed that those who used a high-fluoride toothpaste three times a day had four times better fluoride protection in the mouth than those who used standard toothpaste twice a day,” asserts researcher Anna Nordström from the Institute of Odontology at the Sahlgrenska Academy.

Also tested was a new method of applying toothpaste developed in collaboration with professor Dowen Birkhed, which involves rubbing the toothpaste onto the teeth with a finger.

“This ‘massage’ method proved to be at least as effective as a third brushing in increasing the amount of fluoride in the mouth,” stressed Anna Nordström . “Rubbing the front of your teeth with toothpaste can be an easy way of giving your teeth a third “shot” of fluoride during the day, after lunch for example. But this should not replace brushing with a fluoride toothpaste morning and evening – it’s an extra teeth cleaning).”

Brushing with fluoride toothpaste continues to play a major role in combating tooth decay, and there is strong scientific evidence that daily use of fluoride toothpaste has a pronounced preventive effect.

The study Effect of a Third Application of Toothpaste (1450 and 5000 ppm F), including a “massage” method on fluoride retention and pH drop in plaque was published in Acta Odontologica Scandinavia.

The researchers offered the following 4 tips for dental patients for successfully fighting tooth decay  —

1.  Use toothpaste at least twice a day, after breakfast and before going to bed.
2.  If necessary, brush a third time or rub toothpaste on the teeth instead.
3.  If you have problems with cavities, choose a toothpaste with a higher fluoride content.
4.   Avoid rinsing out the toothpaste with water.

Dentists, what do you think of this oral health study and how massaging fluoride toothpaste on to teeth increases the effectiveness in fighting tooth decay?

For more on this story see: New Massage Method Quadruples Protection Against Tooth Decay

Science Friday: Saliva Test May Help Dentists Detect Oral Cancer Sooner

Science Friday: Saliva Test May Help Dentists Detect Oral Cancer SoonerMichigan State University surgeon Barry Wenig is teaming up with a Lansing-area dental benefits firm on a clinical trial to create a simple, cost-effective saliva test to detect oral cancer, a breakthrough that would drastically improve early oral cancer screening.

It is estimated that oral cancer kills one person, every hour, every single day.

Trimira’s Vice President Jerry Trzeciak states that “Oral cancer is typically detected by a doctor, not a dentist, by which time it is usually a late-stage diagnosis,” he said. “In fact, 40 percent of those diagnosed with oral cancer will be dead in five years and 78% diagnosed with Stage IV, late-stage cancer will be dead in five years. Early detection of oral cancer would improve the survival rate to 80 to 90%.”

Trzeciak noted that fewer than 15% of those who visit a dentist get screened regularly; rarely is the best available technology used.

“When you look at the five-year mortality rate for oral cancer, it’s scary,” Trzeciak said at the AAOMS 91st Annual Meeting in Toronto. “Oral cancer is more deadly than the more familiar cancers: breast, cervical, and prostate, and also more deadly than liver, kidney, thyroid, or colon cancers.”

Oral cancer is growing at double-digit rates, despite declines in alcohol and tobacco use. That is due to HPV-16 and -18 spread through all forms of sex, but particularly oral sex. For that reason, oral cancer is increasingly showing up in the young adult population. The fastest-growing group is females in their forties.

According to the Times, Wenig, a professor in the College of Human Medicine’s Department of Surgery and lead investigator on the project, is working with Delta Dental of Michigan’s Research and Data Institute to compile study data and recruit dentists.

The study will enrol 100-120 patients with white lesions or growths in their mouths and tonsil areas to test as part of the clinical trial.

Wenig and his team will be looking for certain biomarkers previously identified by researchers at UCLA; the biomarkers have been shown in studies to confirm the presence of oral cancer.

By creating a simple saliva test which could identify the biomarker’s presence, physicians and dentists would know which patients need treatment and which ones could avoid needless and invasive biopsies.

Wenig is collaborating with PeriRx, a Pennsylvania company that will sponsor upcoming trials with the Food and Drug Administration.

For more on this story see: Simple Saliva Test to Detect Oral Cancer Early

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