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?

Ancient Oral Health: How Dental Plaque Reveals Hominids’ Diet

Ancient Oral Health: How Dental Plaque Reveals Hominids' DietNewswise is reporting on a 2 million-year-old mishap that befell two early members of the human family tree that is providing the most robust evidence to date of what at least one pair of hominins ate.

A team of researchers including Peter Ungar, Distinguished Professor of anthropology at the University of Arkansas, disclose their findings today in the journal Nature.

Almost 2 million years ago, an elderly female and young male of the species Australopithecus sediba fell into a sinkhole, where their remains were quickly buried in sediment.

In 2010, anthropologist Lee Berger of the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and his colleagues described the remains of this newly characterized creature.

Now a team of scientists has studied the teeth of these specimens, which proved to have unique properties because of how the hominins died.

“We have a very unusual type of preservation,” Ungar said. “The state of the teeth was pristine.”

Since the two individuals were buried underground and quickly encased in sediment, parts of the teeth were even preserved with a pocket of air surrounding them.

Because of this, the researchers were able to perform dental microwear analyses of the tooth surfaces and high-resolution isotope studies of the tooth enamel on these well-preserved teeth. In addition, because the teeth had not been exposed to the elements since death, they also harbored another thing not discovered before in early hominins – areas of preserved tartar buildup around the edges of the teeth.

In this plaque, the scientists found phytoliths, bodies of silica from plants eaten almost 2 million years ago by these early hominids.

“It’s the first time we’ve been able to look at these three things in one or two specimens,” Ungar said.

Using the isotope analysis, the dental microwear analysis and the phytolith analysis, the researchers closed in on the diet of these two individuals, and what they found differs from other early human ancestors from that period. The microwear on the teeth showed more pits and complexity than most other australopiths before it.

Like the microwear, the isotopes also showed that the animals were consuming mostly parts of trees, shrubs or herbs rather than grasses.

The phytoliths gave an even clearer picture of what the animals were consuming, including bark, leaves, sedges, grasses, fruit and palm.

“We get a sense of an animal that looked like it was taking advantage of forest resources,” Ungar said. This kind of food consumption differs from what had been seen in evidence from other australopiths.

“They come out looking like giraffes in terms of their tooth chemistry. A lot of the other creatures there were not eating such forest resources.”

“These findings tell us a really nice story about these two individuals,” Ungar said. “It’s fascinating that we found something that went into the mouth of these creatures that was still in the mouth of these creatures.”

Ungar conducted the microwear analysis. Amanda Henry of the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany; Marion Bamford of the University of Witwatersrand; and Lloyd Rossouw of the National Museum Bloemfontein in South Africa conducted the analysis of the phytoliths. Benjamin Passey of Johns Hopkins University; Matt Sponheimer and Paul Sandberg of the University of Colorado at Boulder; and Darryl de Ruiter of Texas A&M conducted the isotope analysis. Lee Berger of the University of Witwatersrand oversaw the project.

See Newswise article: First Plant Material Found on Ancient Hominins’ Teeth

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

Will Dentists Be Placing Music Grills in Dental Patients Next? (video)

Will Dentists Be Placing Music Grills in Dental Patients Next? (video)Will dental patients be asking dentists to upload their MP3 music to their mouth anytime soon?

It appears that one young college student has worked out the design concept.

Aisen Chacin, a student at Parsons The New School for Design in New York, recently created a digital music player for the mouth by attaching a vibrating motor to a mold of her upper teeth.

Her idea was to be able to hear music via ‘bone conduction’ through the skull so that when music is played, the vibration to the bone would be so strong that songs are clearly heard — without the need for headsets or earbuds.

She was successful with her invention, which resembles the popular teeth grills that many rappers wear. Chacin also installed controls on the underside of the piece so that music lovers can change their music or increase the volume with just their tongues.

Her music-grill device is featured in this video from YouTube —

What do you think about this device?

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