Wisdom Teeth: Detecting Disease With Tooth Sensors

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the School of Engineering & Applied Science is redefining the notion of a wisdom tooth. The team is developing a smart-tooth technology that could someday be used to detect early signs of certain diseases in high-risk patients by analyzing saliva or gingival crevicular fluid.

“Salivary-based biosensors have generated a lot of interest because of their potential for wide applications in medicine,” said Erica Lynn Scheller, who trained as a dentist and is now an assistant professor of medicine and of cell biology and physiology in the School of Medicine. “We’re initially working to develop a biological sensor that measures specific peptides active in periodontal disease and that would be used in combination with a wireless device to retrieve that data.”

“It’s like an electronic tooth,” said Shantanu Chakrabartty, professor of electrical & systems engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science and a partner on the project, currently funded by a four-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Measuring Disease-Specific Peptides
That electronic tooth is actually a tiny sensor and an electronic chip, about a few millimeters-cube in volume. It is designed to be inserted inside the patient’s gum line or as part of a dental appliance, and contains bio-recognition elements that measure disease-specific peptides, which are natural or synthetic groups of amino acids. As a first attempt, the research team will work toward monitoring peptides related to bone breakdown during periodontitis, a dental disease that can lead to loosening and loss of teeth. A wireless ultrasound device would then be used to read the peptide levels and connect to the medical data-cloud.

Right now, one of the project’s biggest challenges is chemistry. “You only have a finite number of bio-recognition elements conjugated to the transducer if you are using an antibody that is specific to these peptides,” said Srikanth Singamaneni, associate professor of mechanical engineering & materials science. “They get saturated fairly quickly. The question is how do you refresh those sensors? That’s one of the aspects we are working to address with this project.”

The research team says developing a new, minimally invasive system that can detect and monitor gum disease and the effectiveness of treatment would be beneficial to the 64 million U.S. residents with periodontal disease and to their dentists. The researchers also are interested in developing other applications for the technology that, while likely years away, could go well beyond the dentist’s chair.

“We’re developing this sensing platform that can be expanded to include additional tracking for inflammatory markers, stress markers and diabetes monitoring,” Scheller said. “Really, anything you can think of that you’d want to track in the oral cavity, we’re developing both the platform and the specific application.”

Tooth-Mounted Sensors Track What You Eat

Monitoring in real time what happens in and around our bodies can be invaluable in the context of health care or clinical studies, but not so easy to do. That could soon change thanks to new, miniaturized sensors developed by researchers at the Tufts University School of Engineering that, when mounted directly on a tooth and communicating wirelessly with a mobile device, can transmit information on glucose, salt and alcohol intake. In research to be published soon in the journal Advanced Materials, researchers note that future adaptations of these sensors could enable the detection and recording of a wide range of nutrients, chemicals and physiological states.

Previous wearable devices for monitoring dietary intake suffered from limitations such as requiring the use of a mouth guard, bulky wiring, or necessitating frequent replacement as the sensors rapidly degraded. Tufts engineers sought a more adoptable technology and developed a sensor with a mere 2mm x 2mm footprint that can flexibly conform and bond to the irregular surface of a tooth. In a similar fashion to the way a toll is collected on a highway, the sensors transmit their data wirelessly in response to an incoming radiofrequency signal.

The sensors are made up of three sandwiched layers: a central “bioresponsive” layer that absorbs the nutrient or other chemicals to be detected, and outer layers consisting of two square-shaped gold rings. Together, the three layers act like a tiny antenna, collecting and transmitting waves in the radiofrequency spectrum. As an incoming wave hits the sensor, some of it is cancelled out and the rest transmitted back, just like a patch of blue paint absorbs redder wavelengths and reflects the blue back to our eyes.

Detecting And Measuring Nutrients

The sensor, however, can change its “color.” For example, if the central layer takes on salt, or ethanol, its electrical properties will shift, causing the sensor to absorb and transmit a different spectrum of radiofrequency waves, with varying intensity. That is how nutrients and other analytes can be detected and measured.

“In theory we can modify the bioresponsive layer in these sensors to target other chemicals – we are really limited only by our creativity,” said Fiorenzo Omenetto, Ph.D., corresponding author and the Frank C. Doble Professor of Engineering at Tufts. “We have extended common RFID – radiofrequency ID – technology to a sensor package that can dynamically read and transmit information on its environment, whether it is affixed to a tooth, to skin, or any other surface.”

Use Of Nanotechnology In Orthodontic Treatment

The field of science and technology has seen radical advancements and one such progression in the field of material science is nanotechnology. Nanotechnology deals with structure at the Nano scale and is one of the most crucial advancements of the 21st century, due to its economic and scientific potential. With the advent of nanotechnology, it has been applied in various fields in orthodontics from the coating of the surface to the innovation of new materials.

What Are Nano Particles?
Nano particles are particles produced in a calculated manner that has a typical dimension of 1 to 100 nm and has properties that are not shared by particles which do not belong to the nanoscale particles with the same chemical structure.

Application Of Nanotechnology In Orthodontics
Nanotechnology is used in the field of orthodontics to sustain good oral health. Silver nanoparticles are used as antimicrobial agents in the manufacturing of cement and resin bases of dentures, root canal columns and orthodontic sealants. The antimicrobial property in the particles decreases the build-up of plaque around the brackets. With the help of nanotechnology, we can reduce the friction and scuffing that happens to the mouth because of the braces. Nanotechnology is being used to make braces more friction resistance while also maintaining transparency. Researchers are still working on using NiTi nanotechnology that can give the dental wire shape-memory and super flexible properties.

  • Nano Coatings in Arch Wires to Reduce Friction – Friction in the mouth is a major problem during orthodontic treatment. Nano coatings are used either on the bracket surface or NiTi wires to prevent abrasion.
  • Orthodontic Brackets – The material with which the bracket is made contains polysulfone with hard aluminia nanoparticles for strength, decreased friction and biocompatibility while maintaining the transparency of the bracket.
  • Nanoparticles Application as Antimicrobial Agent – Cavities and white spot lesions are common problems while undergoing orthodontic treatment due to the accumulation of plaque around the brackets. Silver, gold, silica, copper, nitrogen with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles have been coated on both brackets to prevent tooth decay during orthodontic treatment.

Uses Of Nanoparticles In Dentistry
Nanoparticles have been used for administering local anesthesia, diagnosis and cure of oral cancer and dressing wounds. Nanoparticles are used in dental materials which are used for restoration and dental procedures. They react effectively with microbial membrane and provide a larger surface area for anti-microbial activity.

There has been a lot of exploration on the application of nanotechnology in orthodontics and there’s a lot more work which needs to be done. Extensive research and improvisation in the field of nanotechnology is constantly being done so that the clinical application is available at a fair price to both the orthodontist and the patients.

Author Bio:

Dr. Satish Pai – an Ivy League trained dentist and faculty member at Columbia University believes that a perfect smile not only makes a person look great but feel great while boosting confidence.  As the founder of Putnam Orthodontics, he is dedicated to not only creating perfect smiles for his patients but also educating people with his engaging articles about all things related to a perfect smile and oral health. Spending time with his family always brings a smile to his face. In his free time, you can find him golfing, doing yoga or surfing.

Blasting Dental Plaque With Microbubbles

Whether through an accident or a disease, teeth loss can cause many inconveniences. Dental implants such as crowns, however, have allowed people to overcome most of these and live a better quality of life.

But just like normal teeth, these dental implants require proper care and oral hygiene to prevent further complications, such as the inflammation of the tissues surrounding the implants. While the buildup of dental plaque sticks mainly to the crown, it also adheres to the exposed parts of the screw that holds the dental fixture in place, and these are much harder to clean because they contain microgrooves that make them fit better into the upper or lower jaw bones.

Hitoshi Soyama from Tohoku University and his team from Showa University in Japan conducted a study to look for better ways for dentists to remove this plaque and prevent complications. The team wanted to study the efficiency of a cavitating jet, where high-speed fluid is injected by a nozzle through water to create very tiny bubbles of vapor. When these bubbles collapse, they produce strong shockwaves that are able to remove contaminants.

The Cavitating Jet

The team compared the cleaning effect of a cavitating jet to that of a water jet, which has been used for a long time to remove plaque from dental implants to keep them clean. They grew a biofilm over three days within the mouths of four volunteers, then proceeded to clean that with the two different methods, measuring the amount of plaque remaining at several time intervals.

While there was little difference between the amounts of dental plaque removed by both methods after one minute of cleaning, that changed after longer exposure. After three minutes, the cavitating jet had removed about a third more plaque than the water jet did, leaving little plaque stuck to the implant at the end of the experiment. The cavitating jet was also able to remove the plaque not only from the root section of the screws, but also from the harder-to-reach crest section, though to a lesser extent.

“Conventional methods cannot clean plaques on the surface of dental implants very well, so this new method could give dentists a new tool to better manage these fixtures which are becoming more common,” says Soyama.

Previous research has shown that water flow exerts shear stress to remove the biofilm. In addition to this shear effect, the cavitating jet also produces a considerable force when the bubbles collapse that is able to remove particles from the biofilm and carry them away. The researchers suggest that the two processes probably work in synergy to make the cavitating jet superior to the water jet when cleaning the plaque off the irregular surface of dental implants.

The Fight Against Tooth Decay Gets Help With A New Smart Material

When patients go to the dentist to fill a cavity, they’re trying to solve a problem – not create a new one. But many dental patients get some bad news: bacteria can dig under their tooth-colored fillings and cause new cavities, called recurrent caries. These recurrent caries affect 100 million patients every year and cost an additional $34 billion to treat.

Now, a research collaboration between the Department of Materials Science & Engineering, Faculty of Dentistry, and the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto has resulted in a novel way to minimize recurrent caries.

In a recent paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, professors Ben Hatton, Yoav Finer and Ph.D. student Cameron Stewart tackled the issue and proposed a novel solution: a filling material with tiny particles made by self-assembly of antimicrobial drugs, designed to stop bacteria in its tracks. These particles may solve one of the biggest problems with antibacterial filling materials: how do you store enough drug within the material to be effective for someone’s entire life?

Fighting Cavity-Causing Bacteria

“Adding particles packed with antimicrobial drugs to a filling creates a line of defense against cavity-causing bacteria,” says Hatton. “But traditionally there’s only been enough drug to last a few weeks. Through this research we discovered a combination of drugs and silica glass that organize themselves on a molecule-by-molecule basis to maximize drug density, with enough supply to last years.” This discovery of using antimicrobials which self-assemble means the team can pack 50 times as much of the bacteria-fighting drugs into the particles.

“We know very well that bacteria specifically attack the margins between fillings and the remaining tooth to create cavities,” says Finer. “Giving these materials an antimicrobial supply that will last for years could greatly reduce this problem.”

Looking ahead, the research team plans on testing these new drug-storing particles in dental fillings, monitoring their performance when attacked by bacteria and saliva in the complex environment in the mouth. With some fine-tuning, this new “smart” material could create a stronger filling and fewer trips to the dentist.

5 Different Types Of Braces And Which Is Right For You

Are you thinking of getting braces?

Well luckily for you, this is the perfect time to get braces due to the various options that are available nowadays to straighten your teeth as compared to the traditional metal braces that were available a couple of years back. There is a vast variety of braces available that are great improvements of the traditional metal braces making it easy for you to tackle various orthodontic problems that you may face.

If you’re not familiar with orthodontics then all these choices can be confusing initially. The best way to clear this up is by prioritizing what’s important to you in your treatment.

5 Types Of Braces Available

  1. Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are similar to traditional metal braces with the exception of the brackets and the wires being installed at the back of your teeth. The installation and maintenance can be a bit tough due to the positioning of it but it will serve its purpose. Due to its unique placement and installation process, it usually costs a bit more and can be a bit strenuous to wear initially, but this is best for people who want to maintain an aesthetic appearance of their mouths.

  1. Ceramic Braces

These braces have different kinds of names, some of which are aesthetic braces, tooth-colored braces, porcelain braces or clear braces. Ceramic braces are the same as traditional metal braces with the sole exception that they are designed to blend in with your natural tooth color, making them less visible.

Ceramic braces are a great choice for adults or teens who want to minimize the appearance of their braces. These types of braces will give you a cosmetic experience while wearing braces. These types of braces are much more likely to break than their traditional counterparts so it is not recommended to have these types of braces installed when a lot of pressure is needed to move your teeth.

  1. Self-Ligating Braces

These types of braces are currently very popular with orthodontists as it requires less dental visits and gentler treatment. Self-ligating braces produce quicker results as the teeth move without needing to be adjusted. This type of movement asserts less pressure and friction on your teeth, making it less painful for your gums. Fewer trips to your dentist will cost you less money and less time.

  1. Invisalign Braces

These are a clear kind of braces that you can opt for instead of metal braces. They are made up of clear plastic aligners that are similar to mouth guards which have been specially designed for your mouth. Invisalign aligners can be removed when eating, brushing and cleaning but you will need to switch out your aligner every fortnight. Each new aligner is designed to increase the adjustment of your teeth more and more.

Aligners are generally recommended by an orthodontist for ongoing use after finishing your orthodontic treatment. These aligners will maintain your teeth’s positions till they have settled into their intended positions.

  1. Traditional Metal Braces

Traditional braces are made of high-grade stainless steel and have metal brackets that are attached to each tooth using a kind of cement. These brackets are then connected with one another with a thin archwire. This will put pressure on your teeth to move slowly into their intended positions.

The archwires are connected to the brackets with tiny elastics which are known as ligatures or o-rings which will be switched out each time your dentist tightens your braces. Traditional metal braces are still the most common braces in use today and are both an excellent and practical option for people who suffer from complicated tooth and jaw problems.

You have a wide variety of braces to choose from nowadays and are no longer limited to the large metal braces that have adorned every crooked set of teeth and been the object of ridicule for close to five decades now. Whatever your age, if you need braces now, there is a much wider variety to choose from.

Author Bio:

Sharon Williams’ day job is to handle digital marketing for Koch Orthodontics in Loganville, GA. With a flair for creating compelling content that clears the clutter and connects with the audience in an instant, she writes about dental topics to educate and help her readers. She truly believes that a genuine smile can win a million hearts and talks to her readers about improving their smiles and overall dental health, as well as enhancing their overall lifestyle. In her free time, she likes to organize small meets in her neighbourhood where she brings people together to discuss various topics that she writes about.

Orthodontic Treatment: How To Reduce The Risk Of Periodontal Disease And Avoid Tooth Loss

Even with regular brushing, flossing and daily oral care, plaque can build up and harden to form what is known as tartar, as well as increase the risk for gum disease and cavities. Orthodontic treatment can help improve the form and function of your teeth and gums, and treat oral problems caused by improper positioning of teeth, decay, overbites, and underbites.

In the early stage of gum disease, also known as gingivitis, it is possible to reverse the damage and, in certain cases, it is also possible to eliminate the disease completely. However, an early diagnosis and timely intervention are vital to reducing the chances of gingivitis and prevent it from progressing into periodontal disease.

Factors That Increase The Risk Of Periodontal Disease 

  • Lack of Oral Hygiene

Neglecting the importance of good dental care leads to poor oral hygiene. Moreover, failure to floss and brush regularly, and the inability to keep up with regular dental visits, leaves you susceptible to periodontal disease.

  • Smoking and Chewing Tobacco

The link between cancer and tobacco consumption is long established, but did you know that smoking and chewing tobacco also increase the risk of heart disease, lung disease and gum disease? Not only does tobacco consumption give rise to gum infections, but it also increases the chance of gingivitis gradually developing into periodontitis.

  • Family History

If gingivitis runs in your family, it leaves you vulnerable to developing gingivitis. According to research published by the American Academy of Periodontology, 30% of the population is genetically predisposed to gingivitis if close family members are suffering from this oral condition.

  • Hormonal Fluctuations

Hormonal changes occurring during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause affect all the tissues of the body including gum tissues, so if you experience increased gum sensitivity, it may be an underlying sign of gradually developing gum disease. Pay special attention to your daily oral care and visit a dentist for an early diagnosis.

  • Certain Drugs

Certain medicines that are prescribed for treating depression, various heart conditions, and convulsions can adversely affect your oral health, so if you are on any medication, make sure your dentist knows about it.

  • Stress

Stress impairs your immunity and leaves you vulnerable to oral infections. Whether your stress is caused by work or triggered by personal issues, it contributes to teeth clenching,  which causes tissue damage and aggravates impending gum disease.

  • Crooked and Misaligned Teeth

Overlapping and crooked teeth are a challenge to clean, increasing the risk of cavities and gingivitis.

  • Poor Nutrition

A daily diet that lacks in essential vitamins and nutrients takes a toll on the immune system making it difficult to ward off infections. Excessive intake of sugary foods and sweet beverages causes the build-up of plaque which eventually triggers gum disease.

How Orthodontic Treatment Helps Cure Periodontal Disease

Braces are designed to correct teeth alignment issues and improve the health of teeth and gums. Whether your teeth are misaligned or you have crowding issues, braces can gradually alter the position and spacing of teeth, improve their stability, and decrease the risk of gum disease caused by crowded, uneven teeth. An ideal candidate for braces can be of any age, however, the orthodontic treatment approach will vary depending on the time when the braces are used.

Braces can not only align the adjacent teeth and close small gaps but also open up the unsightly space left by missing teeth and make more room for a restoration procedure. Braces also work to prevent the surrounding teeth from shifting into the space created by missing teeth and help prevent many oral problems.

Invisalign Aligners – An Ideal Option For Those Who Have Periodontal Disease

While braces efficiently straighten crooked teeth, they could have complications especially if you are suffering from gum disease. Periodontal disease is caused by plaque build-up which weakens the gum tissues and eventually erodes the surrounding bone structure, but it can be brought under control using clear aligners. Invisalign aligners minimize gum infection flare-ups and are especially beneficial for patients suffering from gum disease as they can be easily removed for brushing and flossing.

Orthodontic treatment can also correct oral problems arising in patients with missing teeth. It can also close a gap that is created is missing teeth using braces, if the tooth is not to be replaced.

Author Bio: 

Emily Taylor found the perfect fit for herself as the online marketing manager at Thurman Orthodontics in Fresno CA as she believes that a great smile does more than just make a person look great – it makes them feel great as well. The power of a smile has always been a mystery to Emily and she loves researching and writing about it. She loves to write about everything to do with a healthy bite and a beautiful smile – whether is it ways to achieve it or the importance of it in the various aspects of life. What brings a big smile on Emily’s face is her family and surfing. She also likes to bake for her children and co-workers – they call her the cookie fairy!

Dentists Get Cracking On The Stem Cell Front

Stem cells. Few research discoveries hold as much promise of single-handedly expanding medical treatment options as they do. Miraculously able to act as transformers – either re-creating or morphing into a variety of cell types found within the organisms they originate from – stem cells offer humanity hope for new, more effective therapies against a number of chronic and terminal diseases. And finding them is surprisingly easy.

“Stem cells can be extracted from nearly any living tissue,” says Dr. James Mah, director of UNLV’s advanced education program in orthodontics, doctor of dental surgery, and dental researcher. “In fact, stem cells can even be found in tissues of the deceased.” But in spite of all their potential, there’s a catch: “The biggest challenges with stem cells are gathering enough of them to work with and keeping them viable until they are needed,” Dr. Mah said.

He and UNLV biomedical sciences professor Karl Kingsley – along with a handful of undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral dental students – decided to take on this challenge, cutting their teeth in stem cell research by exploring those pearly whites in new ways. In the process, they developed a new method for extracting large numbers of stem cells they could then preserve from a surprisingly abundant source: wisdom teeth.

“More and more adults – approximately 5 million throughout the country – have their wisdom teeth, or third molars, removed,” Kingsley said. “Extracting teeth is relatively common among patients undergoing orthodontic treatments. And the majority of those teeth are healthy, containing viable tooth root pulp that offers opportunities for reproducing cells that have been damaged or destroyed by injuries or disease.”

A Tough Nut To Crack

Tooth root pulp is home to two types of prized stem cells. The first, pluripotent stem cells, have the ability to become any cell in the organism from which they’re drawn. The second, multi-potent stem cells, transform into specific types of cells within that organism. Knowing where to find these cells was one thing. Recovering them, the researchers knew, would be another.

Common methods for extracting root pulp involve drilling into, removing the top of, or shattering the tooth. Each method has its detriments, Dr. Mah said, all of which lead to a low stem-cell recovery rate: damaging heat from drilling, corrosive elements in the water teeth are rinsed in, contaminating enamel particulates, and more. So the researchers sought to discover how to extract pulp in a manner that consistently produced a higher yield. “Initially, the answer seemed simple: crack the tooth in half like a nut and remove the pulp,” Dr. Mah said.

Unfortunately, teeth have irregular surfaces and non-uniform shapes, so cracking teeth usually produces the same shattering effect as a hammer, thereby reducing the number of viable stem cells.

Happy Ghag, then a dental student working with Dr. Mah and Kingsley on the project, thought he might have solution to the dilemma. He approached Mohamed Trabia, UNLV Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering’s associate dean for research, graduate studies, and computing, and Brendan O’Toole, Mendenhall Innovation Program director and mechanical engineering researcher, to discuss fracture analysis.

“Happy had reviewed fracture mechanics literature and decided on a technique that scored the tooth to enable a clean break, similar to the process for custom-cut glass,” O’Toole said. After a few discussions, some of Engineering’s personnel helped Ghag fabricate the device.

The completed instrument, which the research team facetiously dubbed the Tooth Cracker 5000, uses a clamp to hold a tooth in position for a cutting tool to score the surface and a blade to crack it. The result: a perfectly halved tooth, with immediate access to undamaged and uncontaminated root pulp. For O’Toole, this was just another successful collaboration between the two units, as mechanical engineering had been interacting with the School of Dental Medicine’s orthodontic program for a few years.

“Orthodontics, by definition, is a bioengineering topic,” O’Toole said. “They design and place mechanisms in people’s mouths that help move teeth into optimum position. The interaction between our departments makes a lot of sense.” With the Tooth Cracker 5000 complete, Dr. Mah and Kingsley tested the fracture rate of 25 teeth, achieving a 100 percent rate of success. The fracture idea and design prototype had worked perfectly.

Excavating For Success

Now that the researchers had cracked the challenge of accessing the root pulp, it was on to determining how many viable stem cells they could recover from the fractured teeth. Average pulp recovery rates employing common extraction methods – shattering, drilling, etc. – come in at around 20 percent, Dr. Mah noted.

It was time to test the mettle of their new fracture method. Dr. Mah and Kingsley dyed 31 fractured teeth pulp samples to highlight any viable stem cells the teeth contained. Dead cells would turn blue when exposed to the dye. Living cells would appear clear. They looked under the microscope. Eighty percent of their extracted cells remained clear after the dye was introduced.

“Saying the test results were promising is a gross understatement,” Dr. Mah said. “We realized we’d invented an extraction process that produced four times the recovery success rate for viable stem cells. The potential application is enormous.”

Replicating For A Rainy Day

After mastering fracturing and extraction, it was time for the team to determine what kind of stem cells could be harvested and how best to store them.

Normal cells within the body typically die after 10 replications or passages, whereas stem cells can replicate indefinitely, Kingsley indicated. To isolate the stem cells from the rest of the root pulp, the researchers harvested cells from the pulp and cultured them on a petri dish. Once the cells covered the dish, they split the culture in half and repeated the process between 10 and 20 times.

By the end of the culturing, all non-stem cells had expired. Kingsley captured the remaining stem cells and collected their ribonucleic acid (RNA), which is converted into proteins that become biomarkers his team could use to characterize each stem cell type and its respective rate of replication.

“Scientists around the world are trying to figure out what type of stem cells can be coaxed into becoming new cells or different tissue types,” Kingsley said. “We already know some populations of dental pulp stem cells can be converted into neurons, which could become therapies for cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.”

Kingsley noted that teams of scientists around the world are working with animal models to test using stem cells to treat neurological conditions. Early indications, he said, are positive. Although there is still a need for additional tests, Kingsley indicated that the next logical step in this research would be to test stem cells in humans to treat any number of chronic illnesses people face.

“There are potential applications of stem cells for multiple diseases, including cancer, arthritis, and lung disease,” Kingsley said. “The next challenge is reliably collecting the stem cells early enough and storing them successfully so they can be used when needed.”

Preserving The Prize

According to multiple studies, the number of pluripotent stem cells found in teeth decrease dramatically after adults reach the age of 30, Kingsley said. However, people could donate stem cells found in their teeth much like they may donate their blood prior to a surgical procedure or preserve their umbilical cords. If people elected to have their wisdom teeth removed or were having a root canal performed, their stem cells could be harvested at that time and stored for future use.

Creating that possibility has led Dr. Mah and Kingsley to the next step in their research: the cryogenic process. “There is no standard cryogenesis, or freezing process, for storing stem cells,” Kingsley said. “There are multiple organizations that collect and freeze teeth for future studies and use, but there is no evidence about the long-term effects of cryopreservation. We can’t answer yet just how long the cells will survive.”

In 2011, dental student Allison Tomlin studied different populations of stem cells and their viability after being thawed. Every year since, Kingsley and his team have thawed a portion of Tomlin’s sample and evaluated the viability of remaining stem cells.

Initial findings – which Kingsley, Tomlin, and R. Michael Sanders, clinical sciences professor in the dental school, published in their Biomaterials and Biomechanics in Bioengineering article The Effects of Cryopreservation on Human Dental Pulp-derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells – indicate that rapidly dividing cells have higher rates of viability year after year compared to slower dividing cells. If these results remain constant, the stem cells could be sorted before the freezing process based on when they might be needed.

“The work Dr. Kingsley and I are doing is part of a paradigm shift,” Dr. Mah said. “Our fracturing process could hasten the collection and cryogenesis process, thereby preserving a high stem-cell count that furthers research into how using these cells can aid healing and potentially cure diseases.”

Synthetic Tooth Enamel May Lead To More Resilient Structures

Unavoidable vibrations, such as those on airplanes, cause rigid structures to age and crack, but researchers at the University of Michigan may have an answer for that – design them more like tooth enamel, which could lead to more resilient flight computers, for instance. Most materials that effectively absorb vibration are soft, so they don’t make good structural components such as beams, chassis or motherboards. For inspiration on how to make hard materials that survive repeated shocks, the researchers looked to nature.

“Artificial enamel is better than solid commercial and experimental materials that are aimed at the same vibration damping,” said Nicholas Kotov, the Joseph B. and Florence V. Cejka Professor of Chemical Engineering. “It’s lighter, more effective and, perhaps, less expensive.”

Evolution’s Design

He and his team didn’t settle on enamel immediately. They examined many structures in animals that had to withstand shocks and vibrations: bones, shells, carapaces and teeth. These living structures changed from species to species and over the eons. Tooth enamel told a different story. Under an electron microscope, it shared a similar structure whether it came from a Tyrannosaurus, a walrus, a sea urchin or Kotov himself – he contributed his own wisdom tooth to the effort. “To me, this is opposite to what’s happening with every other tissue in the process of evolution,” he said. “Their structures diversified tremendously but not the structure of enamel.”

Evolution had hit on a design that worked for pretty much everyone with teeth. And unlike bone, which can be repaired, enamel had to last the lifetime of the tooth – years, decades or longer still. It must withstand repeated stresses and general vibrations without cracking. Enamel is made of columns of ceramic crystals infiltrated with a matrix of proteins, set into a hard protective coating. This layer is sometimes repeated, made thicker in the teeth that have to be tougher.

The reason why this structure is effective at absorbing vibrations, Kotov explained, is that the stiff nanoscale columns bending under stress from above create a lot of friction with the softer polymer surrounding them within the enamel. The large contact area between the ceramic and protein components further increases the dissipation of energy that might otherwise damage it.

Recreating Enamel

Bongjun Yeom, a postdoctoral researcher in Kotov’s lab, recreated the enamel structure by growing zinc oxide nanowires on a chip. Then he layered two polymers over the nanowires, spinning the chip to spread out the liquid and baking it to cure the plastic between coats. It took 40 layers to build up a single micrometer, or one thousandth of a millimeter, of enamel-like structure. Then, they laid down another layer of zinc oxide nanowires and filled it in with 40 layers of polymer, repeating the whole process up to 20 times.

Even molecular or nanoscale gaps between the polymer and ceramic would reduce the strength of material and the intensity of the friction, but the painstaking layering ensured the surfaces were perfectly mated. “The marvelous mechanical properties of biological materials stem from great molecular and nanoscale adaptation of soft structures to hard ones and vice versa,” Kotov said.

Kotov’s group demonstrated that their synthetic tooth enamel approached the ability of real tooth enamel to defend itself from damage due to vibrations. Computer modeling of the synthetic enamel, performed by researchers at Michigan Technological University and the Illinois Applied Research Institute, confirmed that the structure diffused the forces from vibrations through the interaction between the polymer and columns.

From the project’s inception as a challenge from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Kotov worked with fellow materials heavyweights Ellen Arruda, U-M professor of mechanical engineering, and Anthony Waas, the Felix Pawlowski Collegiate Professor Emeritus.

Kotov hopes to see the synthetic enamel deployed in airplanes and other environments in which vibrations are inescapable, protecting structures and electronics. The challenge, he said, will be automating the production of the material.

The paper is titled Abiotic Tooth Enamel and will be published in the journal Nature.

Study: History Of Gum Disease Increases Cancer Risk In Older Women

Postmenopausal women who have a history of gum disease also have a higher risk of cancer, according to a recent study of more than 65,000 women.

The study, led by researchers at the University at Buffalo, is the first national study of its kind involving U.S. women, and the first to focus specifically on older women. It’s also the first study to find an association between periodontal disease and gallbladder cancer risk in women or men. The findings were published Aug. 1, 2017 in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

“This study is the first national study focused on women, particularly older women,” said Jean Wactawski-Wende, the study’s senior author, dean of UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions and a professor of epidemiology and environmental health. “Our study was sufficiently large and detailed enough to examine not just overall risk of cancer among older women with periodontal disease, but also to provide useful information on a number of cancer-specific sites.”

Periodontal Disease Link

The study included 65,869 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative, an ongoing national prospective study designed to investigate factors affecting disease and death risk in older American women. The average age of the participants was 68, and most were non-Hispanic white women.

As part of a follow-up health questionnaire, participants were asked “Has a dentist or dental hygienist ever told you that you had periodontal or gum disease?”

Women who reported a history of gum disease had a 14 percent increased risk of overall cancer. Of the 7,149 cancers that occurred in the study participants, the majority – or 2,416 – were breast cancer.

“There is increasing evidence that periodontal disease may be linked to an increased cancer risk and this association warrants further investigation,” said the paper’s first author, Ngozi Nwizu, who worked on the research while completing her residency in oral and maxillofacial pathology in UB’s School of Dental Medicine and her doctorate in pathology (cancer epidemiology) at UB’s Roswell Park Cancer Institute Graduate Division. Nwizu is now an assistant professor of oral and maxillofacial pathology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

The risk associated with periodontal disease was highest for esophageal cancer, the researchers reported. “The esophagus is in close proximity to the oral cavity, and so periodontal pathogens may more easily gain access to and infect the esophageal mucosa and promote cancer risk at that site,” Wactawski-Wende said.

Gallbladder cancer risk also was high in women who reported a history of gum disease. “Chronic inflammation has also been implicated in gallbladder cancer, but there has been no data on the association between periodontal disease and gallbladder risk. Ours is the first study to report on such an association,” Nwizu said.

The esophageal and gallbladder cancer findings are significant, Nwizu said. “Esophageal cancer ranks among the most deadly cancers and its etiology is not well known, but chronic inflammation has been implicated,” she said.

“Certain periodontal bacteria have been shown to promote inflammation even in tiny amounts, and these bacteria have been isolated from many organ systems and some cancers including esophageal cancers. It is important to establish if periodontal disease is an important risk of esophageal cancer, so that appropriate preventive measures can be promoted.”

Periodontal disease also was associated with total cancer risk among former and current smokers. The findings for this particular age group are significant because they offer a window into disease in a population of Americans that continues to increase as people live longer lives.

“The elderly are more disproportionately affected by periodontal disease than other age groups, and for most types of cancers, the process of carcinogenesis usually occurs over many years,” said Nwizu. “So the adverse effects of periodontal disease are more likely to be seen among postmenopausal women, simply because of their older age.”

New Dental Imaging Method Uses Squid Ink To Fish For Gum Disease

Squid ink might be a great ingredient to make black pasta, but it could also one day make getting checked for gum disease at the dentist less tedious and even painless. By combining squid ink with light and ultrasound, a team led by engineers at the University of California San Diego has developed a new dental imaging method to examine a patient’s gums that is non-invasive, more comprehensive and more accurate than the state of the art.

“The last time I was at the dentist, I realized that the tools that are currently being used to image teeth and gums could use significant updating,” said Jesse Jokerst, a nanoengineering professor at UC San Diego and senior author of the study.

Pocket Depth Measuring

The conventional method for dentists to assess gum health is to use an instrument called a periodontal probe – a thin, hook-like metal tool that’s marked like a tiny measuring stick and inserted in between the teeth and gums to see whether and how much the gums have shrunk back from the teeth, creating pockets. This method of measuring pocket depth is the gold standard used in dentistry. A pocket depth measuring one to two millimeters indicates healthy gums while three millimeters and deeper is a sign of gum disease. The deeper the pockets, the more severe the gum disease.

However, procedures using the periodontal probe are invasive, uncomfortable and sometimes painful for the patient. Measurements can also vary greatly between dentists, and the probe is only capable of measuring the pocket depth of one spot at a time.

In a paper published on Sept. 7, 2017 in the Journal of Dental Research, Jokerst and his team at UC San Diego introduced an innovative method that can image the entire pocket depth around the teeth consistently and accurately, without requiring any painful poking and prodding.

“Using the periodontal probe is like examining a dark room with just a flashlight and you can only see one area at a time. With our method, it’s like flipping on all the light switches so you can see the entire room all at once,” Jokerst said.

Ultrasound Detection

The method begins by rinsing the mouth with a paste made of commercially available food-grade squid ink mixed with water and cornstarch. The squid-ink-based rinse serves as a contrast agent for an imaging technique called photoacoustic ultrasound. This involves shining a light signal – usually a short laser pulse – onto a sample, which heats up and expands, generating an acoustic signal that researchers can analyze. “Light in, sound out,” Jokerst said.

Squid ink naturally contains melanin nanoparticles, which absorb light. During the oral rinse, the melanin nanoparticles get trapped in the pockets between the teeth and gums. When researchers shine a laser light onto the area, the squid ink heats up and quickly swells, creating pressure differences in the gum pockets that can be detected using ultrasound. This method enables researchers to create a full map of the pocket depth around each tooth – a significant improvement over the conventional method.

Researchers tested their photoacoustic imaging method in a pig model containing a mix of shallow and deep pockets in the gums. While their results closely matched measurements taken using a periodontal probe, they were also consistent across multiple tests. On the other hand, measurements with the periodontal probe varied significantly from one test to another. “It’s remarkable how reproducible this technique is compared to the gold standard,” Jokerst said.

Moving forward, the team will be collaborating with dentists and testing their method in humans. Future work also includes minimizing the taste of the squid ink oral rinse – it’s salty and somewhat bitter – and replacing laser lights with inexpensive, more portable light systems like LEDs. The team’s ultimate goal is to create a mouthpiece that uses this technology to measure periodontal health.

Easy Treatments For Dry Mouth

A very common issue associated with age, medication and hydration is dry mouth. It can be hard to combat depending on the severity and the factors that contribute to it. For some, taking a sip of water can cure their dry mouth, for others, the reason for their mouth dryness comes from deeper issues. If you are suffering from this common annoyance, here are some easy treatments that you can do at home that are also completely safe and natural.

Increase Water Intake

One of the most prevalent causes of dry mouth is dehydration. When you consume enough water throughout the day, your body will be able to produce the normal amount of healthy fluids, one of which is saliva. Sometimes the standard eight glasses a day isn’t sufficient. Drinking at least half of your body weight in ounces is a more accurate recommendation. You should also eat many different water-based fruits and vegetables throughout the day.

Cayenne Pepper

This may seem counterintuitive to some. After all, wouldn’t spicy foods be the opposite of what you would want to consume if you were having a problem with dry mouth? Wouldn’t that in fact make the state of your mouth drier? Actually no, it’s the exact opposite. Cayenne pepper stimulates the production of saliva, which makes it one of the most effective remedies for dry mouth. It is also said to improve the state of your taste buds which makes it easier to distinguish certain tastes. Try adding a sprinkle to your dishes to promote your saliva glands.

Fennel Seeds

The reason that these specific types of seeds are so effective in helping with dry mouth is because they contain flavonoids that naturally increase the production of saliva in the mouth. So if you are used to munching on sunflower seeds or nuts, this is an easy substitute that will also help to aid your dry mouth. You can munch on them several times a day to help treat the dryness in your mouth. Try roasting them in a pan and add a little bit of salt to taste.

Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is a very popular, ancient practice that has a numerous amount of benefits associated with it. It can help keep your mouth moist, kill bacteria that leads to bad breath and mouth sores, and also help to whiten teeth. There are a few different types of oil that can be used for this practice; most choose from coconut oil, sesame oil or avocado oil. Put a tablespoon of the oil into your mouth and swish it around for 15 to 30 seconds. Spit out the oil and then rinse out your mouth with warm water. This helps to provide your mouth with adequate saliva production.

Aloe Vera

One of the most versatile natural entities is aloe vera. It’s pure gel form can be used in many different ways. Often used for bad sunburns, it can treat the occurrence of dry mouth by enhancing the taste buds – which also protects and activates the sensitive tissue in the mouth. You can drink aloe vera juice, which is found in health food stores, a few times a day.

Try the all-natural liquid toothpaste with a handcrafted blend of 100% pure cold pressed botanical almond, spearmint and carefully-aged peppermint oils. It naturally helps clean your teeth and gums by eliminating bacteria-causing germs and plaque while leaving you with fresh breath.

 

An End To Cavities For People With Sensitive Teeth?

An ice cold drink is refreshing in the summer, but for people with sensitive teeth, it can cause a painful jolt in the mouth. This condition can be treated, but many current approaches don’t last long. Now researchers report in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces the development of a new material with an extract from green tea that could fix this problem – and help prevent cavities in these susceptible patients.

Tooth sensitivity commonly occurs when the protective layers of teeth are worn away, revealing a bony tissue called dentin. This tissue contains microscopic hollow tubes that, when exposed, allow hot and cold liquids and food to contact the underlying nerve endings in the teeth, causing pain.

Dentin

Unprotected dentin is also vulnerable to cavity formation. Plugging these tubes with a mineral called nanohydroxyapatite is a long-standing approach to treating sensitivity. But the material doesn’t stand up well to regular brushing, grinding, erosion or acid produced by cavity-causing bacteria. Cui Huang and colleagues wanted to tackle sensitivity and beat the bacteria at the same time.

Green Tea

The researchers encapsulated nanohydroxyapatite and a green tea polyphenol – epigallocatechin-3-gallate or EGCG in silica nanoparticles, which can stand up to acid and wear and tear. EGCG has been shown in previous studies to fight Streptococcus mutans, which forms biofilms that cause cavities.

Testing on extracted wisdom teeth showed that the material plugged the dentin tubules, released EGCG for at least 96 hours, stood up to tooth erosion and brushing and prevented biofilm formation. It also showed low toxicity. Based on these findings, the researchers say the material could indeed be a good candidate for combating tooth sensitivity and cavities.

 

Study: Periodontal Disease Linked To Gallbladder Cancer Risk In Women

Postmenopausal women who have a history of gum disease also have a higher risk of cancer, according to a new study of more than 65,000 women.

The study, led by researchers at the University at Buffalo, is the first national study of its kind involving U.S. women, and the first to focus specifically on older women. It’s also the first study to find an association between periodontal disease and gallbladder cancer risk in women or men. The findings were published August 1st in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

“This study is the first national study focused on women, particularly older women,” said Jean Wactawski-Wende, the study’s senior author.

“Our study was sufficiently large and detailed enough to examine not just overall risk of cancer among older women with periodontal disease, but also to provide useful information on a number of cancer-specific sites,” added Wactawski-Wende, dean of UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions and a professor of epidemiology and environmental health.

Gum Disease Study
The study included 65,869 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative, an ongoing national prospective study designed to investigate factors affecting disease and death risk in older American women. The average age of the participants was 68, and most were non-Hispanic white women.

As part of a follow-up health questionnaire, participants were asked, “Has a dentist or dental hygienist ever told you that you had periodontal or gum disease?” Women who reported a history of gum disease had a 14 percent increased risk of overall cancer. Of the 7,149 cancers that occurred in the study participants, the majority – 2,416 – were breast cancer.

“There is increasing evidence that periodontal disease may be linked to an increased cancer risk and this association warrants further investigation,” said the paper’s first author, Ngozi Nwizu, who worked on the research while completing her residency in oral and maxillofacial pathology in UB’s School of Dental Medicine and her doctorate in pathology (cancer epidemiology) at UB’s Roswell Park Cancer Institute Graduate Division. Nwizu is now an assistant professor of oral and maxillofacial pathology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

The risk associated with periodontal disease was highest for esophageal cancer, the researchers reported. “The esophagus is in close proximity to the oral cavity, and so periodontal pathogens may more easily gain access to and infect the esophageal mucosa and promote cancer risk at that site,” Wactawski-Wende said.

Gallbladder cancer risk also was high in women who reported a history of gum disease. “Chronic inflammation has also been implicated in gallbladder cancer, but there has been no data on the association between periodontal disease and gallbladder risk. Ours is the first study to report on such an association,” Nwizu said.

The esophageal and gallbladder cancer findings are significant, Nwizu said. “Esophageal cancer ranks among the most deadly cancers and its etiology is not well known, but chronic inflammation has been implicated,” she said.

Periodontal Bacteria

“Certain periodontal bacteria have been shown to promote inflammation even in tiny amounts, and these bacteria have been isolated from many organ systems and some cancers including esophageal cancers,” Nwizu continued. “It is important to establish if periodontal disease is an important risk of esophageal cancer, so that appropriate preventive measures can be promoted.”

Periodontal disease also was associated with total cancer risk among former and current smokers. The findings for this particular age group are significant because they offer a window into disease in a population of Americans that continues to increase as people live longer lives.

“The elderly are more disproportionately affected by periodontal disease than other age groups, and for most types of cancers, the process of carcinogenesis usually occurs over many years,” said Nwizu. “So the adverse effects of periodontal disease are more likely to be seen among postmenopausal women, simply because of their older age.”

 

Why Do Your Gums Bleed When Flossing?

If you are experiencing bleeding gums while you are flossing, there could be a couple of different reasons associated with why. When your gums bleed there is definitely something associated with the health and lining of your gums that you should be concerned with. One of the most common reasons that your gums may bleed when you floss is because you simply aren’t flossing enough or as well as needed. The presence of the blood is likely directly related to the build-up of bacteria around the gum tissue.

Bleeding gums can also be a sign of gingivitis, which is an inflammatory response to lack of proper oral hygiene. The plaque that tends to build around the gum tissue and at the bottom of teeth can often be discarded with adequate brushing yet that doesn’t mean you should skimp on flossing. When you don’t floss as diligently as you should, the plague can cause build-up that gets compacted around your gums. This leads to tartar and can make your gums bleed when flossing. Don’t try to avoid flossing just because you see some blood on your floss strings. Signs of blood actually mean you need to floss more often and more thoroughly to ensure that your teeth are getting the proper cleaning that they require.

Another reason that your gums may be bleeding is due to particles of food that get stuck in various parts of your mouth. Many people don’t realize just how ineffective they are when brushing and flossing. Being lazy with these very important habits will make for a breeding ground for the bacteria that naturally exists in the mouth. This will cause plaque to build and attack tooth tissue. This will also cause gums to potentially become more inflamed. While brushing does a great job of eliminating plaque, the major player is flossing because it’s a more controlled, direct and specific way to clean around the entire tooth.

The tissue of the gums is very sensitive and fits around the tooth much like a collar. This is where plaque and bacteria love to hang out. Typically, further up the tooth shaft, the brush has an easier time cleaning and ridding the tooth of plaque. If you don’t floss on a regular basis, it’s very easy for the gums to not be properly tended to and to begin to bleed when you do floss. If you go too long without flossing, you potentially set your mouth up for a periodontal disease, which is a very serious gum issue that can cause pain and tooth loss if it isn’t properly addressed.

Try using a bacteria-killing mouthwash prior to flossing in order to eliminate the amount of bacteria in your mouth and near your gums. Homemade rinses like a salt water rinse work really well and so does something like an antimicrobial oral rinse. Using coconut or avocado oil to oil pull will also help in this way.

Try the all-natural liquid toothpaste with a handcrafted blend of 100% pure cold pressed botanical almond, spearmint and carefully-aged peppermint oils. It naturally helps clean your teeth and gums by eliminating bacteria-causing germs and plaque while leaving you with fresh breath. Click here