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Posts tagged “China”

Giant pandas undergo their first dental checks in Chengdu, China

Going to the dentist can be a nerve-wracking experience, but a group of giant pandas in Chengdu, China has breezed through their first check-up with no problems at all. 

A group of around 20 pandas was recently visited by dental experts, who provided a round of routine checks for the playful inhabitants of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Before the check-ups, the pandas were anaesthetised. Once the effects had become visible, the team set about carrying out X-rays and examining the teeth to look for signs of decay and infection. Pandas are susceptible to oral disease because of their diet, which is predominantly made up of hard and sharp foods. 

While the wild panda’s diet consists almost exclusively of bamboo, pandas in captivity are often given additional food items, including fruit and vegetables. As pandas graze constantly, it’s vital that their teeth are healthy and strong. If a panda was to develop an infection or cavities in the teeth, it would be extremely hard to find a substitute for bamboo, and this would almost certainly have a devastating impact on the health of the panda. 

The centre staged a mass dental treatment session earlier in the month after receiving funding from a panda charity based in Macau.

South African veterinary dentist, Cedric Tutt, was charged with the responsibility of providing the dental examinations, and he was assisted by a team of on-site vets, as well as dental experts from other parts of China. Twenty of the centre’s 184 pandas were selected at random to undergo checks, with the majority emerging with a clean bill of health. There were some minor symptoms of gum disease and tartar build-up detected, which have now been addressed.

The check-ups mark the first comprehensive routine dental programme for pandas in China’s history, and they represent a major step forward in the conservation of this treasured, unique black and white bear.

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.

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