Dr Mark O'Donnell B.D.S
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News - February 2017
Alzheimer's drug makes teeth grow back
Fillings could be consigned to history after scientists discovered that a drug already trialled in Alzheimer's patients can encourage tooth regrowth and repair cavities. Researchers at King's College, London found that the drug, tideglusib, stimulates the stem cells contained in the pulp of teeth so that they generate new dentine – the mineralised material under the enamel.
Teeth already have the capability to regenerate dentine if the pulp inside the tooth becomes exposed through a trauma or infection, but can only naturally make a very thin layer, and not enough to fill the deep cavities caused by tooth decay.
But tideglusib switches off an enzyme called GSK-3, which prevents dentine from carrying on forming. Scientists showed it is possible to soak a small biodegradable sponge with the drug and insert it into a cavity, where it triggers the growth of dentine and repairs the damage within six weeks. The tiny sponges are made out of collagen so they melt away over time, leaving only the repaired tooth.
Prof. Paul Sharpe of the Dental Institute, King’s College London and lead author of the study, said: “The simplicity of our approach makes it ideal as a clinical dental product for the natural treatment of large cavities, by providing both pulp protection and restoring dentine.
“In addition, using a drug that has already been tested in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease provides a real opportunity to get this dental treatment quickly into clinics.”
Currently, dentists use man-made cements or fillings to treat larger cavities and fill holes in teeth.
New dental implant reduces risk of infections
A multidisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Leuven, Belgium has developed a dental implant that gradually releases drugs from a built-in reservoir. This helps prevent and fight infections.
Our mouths contain many microorganisms, including bacterial and fungal pathogens. On traditional dental implants, these pathogens can quickly form a so-called biofilm, which is resistant to antimicrobial drugs like antibiotics. As a result, these implants come with a significant risk of infections that may be difficult to treat.
Leuven researchers have now developed a new dental implant that reduces the risk of infections. Lead author Kaat De Cremer explained: "Our implant has a built-in reservoir underneath the crown of the tooth. A cover screw makes it easy to fill this reservoir with antimicrobial drugs. The implant is made of a porous composite material, so that the drugs gradually diffuse from the reservoir to the outside of the implant, which is in direct contact with the bone cells. As a result, the bacteria can no longer form a biofilm”.
In the lab, the implant was subjected to various tests for use with chlorhexidine, a universal mouthwash with a powerful antimicrobial effect. The study showed that Streptococcus mutans, a type of mouth bacteria that affects the teeth, could no longer form biofilms on the outside of the implant when the reservoir is filled with the mouthwash. Biofilms that were grown beforehand on implants could be eliminated in the same way. This means that the implant is effective in terms of both preventing and curing infections.
Scuba diver? Go to the dentist!
Scuba divers may want to stop by their dentist's office before taking their next plunge. A new study from the University at Buffalo, New York, published in the British Dental Journal, found that 41% of divers experienced dental symptoms in the water.
Due to the constant jaw clenching and fluctuations in the atmospheric pressure underwater, divers may experience symptoms that range from tooth, jaw and gum pain to loosened crowns and broken dental fillings.
Recreational divers should consider consulting with their dentist before diving if they recently received dental care, says Vinisha Ranna, BDS, lead author of the study.
Vinisha is also a certified stress and rescue scuba diver and said: "Divers are required to meet a standard of medical fitness before certification, but there are no dental health prerequisites.
"Considering the air supply regulator is held in the mouth, any disorder in the oral cavity can potentially increase the diver's risk of injury. A dentist can look and see if diving is affecting a patient's oral health.”
The research was inspired by Ranna's first experience with scuba diving in 2013 where she noticed a squeezing sensation in her teeth, a condition known as barodontalgia. Her goal was to identify the dental symptoms that divers experience and detect trends in how or when they occur.
Of the 41 participants who reported dental symptoms, 42% experienced barodontalgia, 24% described pain from holding the air regulator in their mouths too tightly and 22% reported jaw pain. Another 5% noted that their crowns were loosened while diving, and one person reported a broken dental filling.