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Category “Dental News”

Chinese scientists develop new tooth-repairing gel

Chinese scientists have developed a new tooth-repairing gel, which could spell the end of fillings.

Researchers at the Zhejiang School of Medicine have created a unique gel formula, which is capable of regenerating the tooth enamel. The team’s innovative liquid solution contains calcium and phosphate ions, which are mixed into an alcohol-based solution with an organic compound known as trimethylamine. The formula produced minute clusters of calcium phosphate, which measured 1.5nm in diameter. This substance is the main component of enamel. 

When applied to the tooth surface, the researchers found that their gel created a new layer of enamel. In just 48 hours, the gel had produced an enamel coating, which was approximately 3 micrometres in thickness. 

Dr Zhaoming Lee, co-author of the study, explained that the newly-produced enamel has the same properties as natural enamel tissue, and could therefore help to promote enamel growth and tooth repair without the need for fillings. The team is hoping to start trials involving human participants within the next two years. 

The discovery is exciting because natural enamel tissue is not capable of regeneration, and as such, we rely on fillings and other restorations to strengthen the teeth, fill cavities and repair damage. With this gel, it may be possible to restore the teeth without using additional materials, which will enhance patient satisfaction, improve the longevity of results, and save money.

Having discussed the development of the new gel with dental professionals, Dr Lee, study leader, Professor Tang Ruikang, and the rest of the team are confident that this is a solution that can make a real difference within the world of dentistry, and it could pave the way for a new way of permanently protecting and restoring the teeth. Dr Sherif Elsharkawy, a prosthodontic expert from King’s College London, described the breakthrough as “very exciting.”

The findings of the study have been published in the Science Advances journal.

Scientists discover new stem cells, which could help to repair and regenerate teeth

Scientists at Plymouth University have made an exciting discovery, which could make regenerating the teeth a possibility in the future. 

A team of researchers from the university has discovered a new group of stem cells and the gene, which activates it. This group is responsible for the formation of skeletal and tooth tissue, most notably dentin. Dentin is the hard tissue that protects the nerves, the blood vessels and the pulp tissue, and it is found beneath the enamel surface. At the moment, when a tooth is damaged, it can only be restored, usually by means of a crown or a filling. With this new stem cell research, it could be possible to regenerate damaged tissue and effectively grow new teeth. 

Lead researcher, Dr Bing Hu, said that the importance and value of stem cells is well-documented, but to fully understand the capabilities of stem cells, it’s crucial to learn how they work. The group discovered new stem cells, as well as the gene that activates them, known as Dlkl. By finding the stem cells and the gene, and investigating how Dlkl is involved in stem cell regeneration, the team has made major strides to understand stem cell regeneration. The research can now form a base for further exploration and to determine how to develop lab-based techniques for human use. 

Co-author of the study, Prof Christopher Tredwin, head of the Peninsula Dental School at Plymouth University, said that the research will hopefully provide dental patients with more effective, affordable solutions for tooth problems and injuries in the future. 

Dental injuries and diseases are commonplace in the UK, with 170 extraction procedures carried out on under 18’s every day.

The findings have been published in the Nature Communications journal. 

Dental charity welcomes plans to expand HPV vaccine programme to protect boys

The Oral Health Foundation has welcomed plans to expand the HPV vaccine programme to protect boys, as well as girls.

Currently, 12 and 13-year-old girls are offered the immunisation as part of a scheme to reduce the risk of cervical cancer. Now, Public Health England has confirmed that the programme will be rolled out to include teenage boys in a bid to lower the number of cancer cases linked to the virus.

HPV (human papilloma virus) is a very common virus, which usually doesn’t cause any problems. However, there are certain strains that increase the risk of some types of cancer.

The vaccination has been incredibly effective in lowering the risk of cervical cancer, and campaigners believed that boys should be vaccinated to protect them against other forms of cancer. Oral cancer, for example, is linked to HPV exposure, and the number of cases in the UK has more than doubled in the last 10-15 years.

HPV vaccination started in 2008 and Public Health England has confirmed that boys in year 8 will be offered the injection from September 2019. It is estimated that around 5% of cancer cases are linked to the HPV, and in the UK, experts believe that extending the vaccination programme could prevent up to 2,000 cases in men each year.

Types of cancer that may be associated with HPV in men include cancer of the penis and anus and head and neck cancer.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, welcomed the news and urged all parents of boys and girls who are eligible for the vaccine to take advantage of the opportunity to have the injection. The programme has already enjoyed incredible results among girls and young women, and expanding the scheme could save many more lives.

American researchers link oral bacteria to colon cancer progression

Researchers in America have established a link between a form of common oral bacteria and the acceleration of colon cancer.

A team from the College of Dental Medicine at Columbia University found that a common strain of oral bacteria, which is linked to tooth decay, can also contribute to colon cancer progression. F.nucleatum, which is often found in dental plaque, could play an instrumental role in the pace of colon cancer growth. Colon cancer is currently the second deadliest form of cancer in the US.

Yiping H Wan, study leader and professor of microbial sciences, explained that genetic mutations play a significant role in the development and spread of cancerous cells, but there are other factors to consider, including the presence of microbes. Scientists discovered that around a third of colon cancer cases are associated with the strain, and those were found to be more aggressive than others, but until now, it was not known why this was the case.

In a previous study, Han and his team discovered that the bacterium produced a molecule known as FadA adhesion, which was found to stimulate growth in cancerous cells, but not in healthy tissue. Prof Han wanted to build on the findings of that study and determine why F.nucleatum only triggered growth in cancerous cells. The most recent study focused on this interaction, and researchers found that non-cancerous cells lack a protein called Annexin A1, which stimulates growth. Using in-vitro trials, which were followed by trials involving mice, they determined that prohibiting Annexin 1 function prevented F.nucleatum from binding to cancerous cells. Subsequently, this slowed growth.

In light of their findings, Prof Han and the team are now looking for ways to use Annexin 1 as a biomarker for advanced, aggressive cancers and to utilise the study as a base for developing potential treatment options.

Dentists support Fizz Free February campaign

The British Dental Association has lent its support to a campaign, which was originally launched by Southwark Council in 2018. Fizz Free February is designed to encourage people to abstain from fizzy drinks throughout the month of February. The scheme is now part of NHS England’s Sugar Smart campaign.
Jane Avis, cabinet member for families, health and social care at Croydon Council, explained that giving up fizzy drinks was a simple way to reduce sugar intake and also cut spending. Giving up a daily bottle of soft drinks could save the average person more than £430 per year and dramatically decrease sugar intake. Many drinks contain more than the recommended daily intake in a single serving. Almost 80% of cans contain at least 6 teaspoons of sugar.
The British Dental Association is getting behind the campaign, which targets children and young adults, in a bid to stem rising rates of decay and encourage people to make positive lifestyle choices. Mick Armstrong, chair, said that prevention is key to reducing rates of decay. The effects of excessive sugar consumption are clear for dentists to see on a daily basis, and cutting out fizzy drinks could make a huge difference to standards of oral health moving forward. Fizzy drinks are laden with sugar, and they’re also acidic, meaning that they represent a double whammy in terms of enamel damage.
The Fizz Free February campaign has also been endorsed by health secretary, Matt Hancock, TV chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Labour MP, Tom Watson.
The idea behind the campaign is incredibly simple and it’s similar to Stoptober and Dry January. If people can cut out fizzy drinks for a period of time, there’s every chance that they will reduce their intake drastically in the future and, hopefully, make choices that are healthier and more nutritious.

As attendance rates fall, how often should you be seeing your dentist?

New figures for attendance rates have sparked debate among patients, professionals and dental organisations, but do you know how often you should see your dentist? Recent figures suggest that more than 55% of adults in London haven’t seen a dentist in the last two years, while more than 40 percent of children in England didn’t see a dentist last year.
In some cases, low attendance may be linked to poor access to services, but the vast majority of people should be able to get an appointment with a local dentist without a significant waiting period. In light of this, it’s worth talking about how often you need to see a dentist. Recently, dentists, including England’s chief dental officer, have spoken about reducing the frequency of dental visits, but there may be an element of confusion related to this advice.
The message dentists are eager to put across is the importance of seeing a dentist on a basis that is suitable for the individual patient. If you have strong, healthy teeth and a very low risk of decay and gum disease, you may only be advised to see your dentist once every year. If, however, you have existing dental issues or a high risk of developing conditions like gum disease, it is likely that you’ll be encouraged to attend appointments at least once every 6 months. Dentists also want to urge patients to be mouth aware and to seek advice if they notice any changes or any potentially dangerous symptoms, such as bleeding and swollen gums, slow-healing mouth ulcers, abnormal inflammation, lumps or tooth pain. In this case, patients are advised to call and make an appointment as quickly as possible, rather than waiting until their next scheduled check-up.
For children, dentists advise 6-monthly appointments. Routine checks are an effective means of preventing decay and infection, but they also flag up early signs of cavities and enable children to get used to going to the dentist.

London’s Mayor announces junk food advertising ban on the tube

The Mayor of London has announced plans to implement a ban on junk food advertising on the tube.
Under new guidelines, adverts for products that are high in fat, salt, and sugar will not be permitted on the underground. The ban will also include overground stations and bus stations and stops.
Sadiq Khan said that the measure would hopefully help to combat the “ticking time bomb” of childhood obesity in the city and contribute to healthier lifestyle choices and lower rates of dental disease. Tube stations and bus stops currently feature posters advertising items and products from fast food meals and chocolate bars to fizzy pop and energy drinks. The new ban will reduce exposure to junk food advertising for people who travel on the underground or via buses or trains on a regular basis.
Studies show that advertising can have a significant influence on consumer habits, and ministers are clamping down on advertising across the board. There are already bans in place at certain times of the day on TV, and shops and supermarkets are also being urged to eradicate displays of sugary and fatty foods close to the tills.
The TFL ban will come into play on the 25th February and will cover all areas and networks that are managed by TFL.
A consultation on the matter revealed widespread support for the ban. Of the 1,500 survey respondents, 82% supported the idea.
Mayor Khan said that it was crucial to take “tough action” to tackle preventable childhood illnesses, such as obesity, and stated that preventing exposure to advertising would make a difference, not just to children, but also to their parents and carers.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England, described the ban as an “important step in the right direction.”

British Dental Association raises concerns over a lack of dental funding

The British Dental Association has raised concerns over a lack of funding for NHS dental services. According to research cited by the BDA, real-term spending on dental care has fallen by £7.50 per head in England.

A new study shows that spending on NHS dental care has decreased, despite the fact that charges for treatment have risen by up to 80 percent. The BDA suggests that a shortage of cash is now contributing to problems with access to NHS treatment, with many patients across the country finding it difficult to get an appointment with a local dentist.

Chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee, Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, has accused successive governments of failing to provide sufficient funding for an affective NHS dental care system and criticised ministers for hiking charges at the same time as cutting budgets. The BDA also claims that the government has been extremely slow to bring about changes in the dental contract and stated that NHS dental services shouldn’t be a “postcode lottery.”

A recent investigation showed that 24 local authorities in England currently have no dental practices accepting new NHS adult patients. Recently, it was revealed that no clinics are taking on new patients in Jeremy Hunt’s constituency, South West Surrey, and the BDA is hoping that this will spur on a response to a situation that is getting worse by the day.

Could a new dental repair drug spell the end of fillings?

shutterstock_535946473Scientists from King’s College London are hopeful that a new tooth repair drug could spell the end for fillings. A team of researchers has discovered that chemicals contribute to the repair of small cavities in mice teeth, and there are high hopes that the same results could be achieved in humans.

The study, which has been published in Scientific Reports, documents trials using a drug called Tideglusib. Researchers soaked a sponge in the drug, and then evaluated the impact on mice. They found that the drug contributed to “complete, effective, natural repair” of small holes in mice teeth. The drug was found to increase the activity of stem cells within the tooth pulp, which resulted in the restoration of holes measuring 0.13mm. Researchers found that once the sponge that was inserted into the cavity broke down, it was substituted by the dentine, and this resulted in an accelerated healing process.

Researcher Prof Paul Sharpe, claimed that the key aspect was the biodegradable sponge. The sponge disintegrates, and the space it leaves becomes filled with important minerals, which enables the dentine to regenerate. The outcome is a repaired cavity, and nothing left behind, which could cause problems further down the line.

The team is now hoping to investigate whether the method could be adopted to repair larger, deeper holes.

Prof Sharpe is hopeful that the treatment could be available in the next 3-5 years, such is the speed of development of regenerative medicine. Tideglusib has already trialled as a treatment for dementia.

Dentists call for an end to workplace ‘cake culture’

Cake Culture

Dental experts are calling for an end to the workplace ‘cake culture’ in a bid to reduce the prevalence of public health problems, including dental disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Members of the Faculty of Dental Surgery claim that grazing on cakes and biscuits at work is contributing to serious health problems in society. People are increasingly likely to turn up to work with unhealthy snacks and treats, putting them at risk of a host of preventable health issues.

Dean of the faculty, Prof Nigel Hunt, said that we’ve become a nation of grazers that uses cakes and other sweet treats as a means of cheering co-workers up, celebrating occasions and rewarding colleagues. The sentiments are positive, but the reality is that a growing number of people are experiencing health problems related to their diet and lifestyle choices. The faculty has advised the public to keep an eye on sugar consumption and to find alternative snacks. There’s nothing wrong with having a slice of cake from time to time, but experts are worried that we’ve created a culture where eating foods that are bad for you is the norm, rather than a one-off treat.

Former Great British Bake Off contestant, Jane Beedle, said that a little bit of cake now and again wasn’t going to “kill anyone”, and insisted that cake should bring happiness to the office. However, she added that it was important to learn not to just stuff anything in your mouth without thinking about it. There’s a tendency to graze on anything that’s available, especially at this time of year, and it’s beneficial to work out whether they are actually “worth the calories.”

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