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posted by martyb on Thursday January 12 2017, @06:31PM   Printer-friendly
from the something-to-chew-on dept.

King's College London researchers have found a method of stimulating the stem cells inside of teeth in order to generate new dentine mineral, potentially reducing the need to use man-made materials to treat cavities:

A new method of stimulating the renewal of living stem cells in tooth pulp using an Alzheimer's drug has been discovered by a team of researchers at King's College London. Following trauma or an infection, the inner, soft pulp of a tooth can become exposed and infected. In order to protect the tooth from infection, a thin band of dentine is naturally produced and this seals the tooth pulp, but it is insufficient to effectively repair large cavities. Currently dentists use man-made cements or fillings, such as calcium and silicon-based products, to treat these larger cavities and fill holes in teeth. This cement remains in the tooth and fails to disintegrate, meaning that the normal mineral level of the tooth is never completely restored.

However, in a paper published today in Scientific Reports, scientists from the Dental Institute at King's College London have proven a way to stimulate the stem cells contained in the pulp of the tooth and generate new dentine – the mineralised material that protects the tooth - in large cavities, potentially reducing the need for fillings or cements.

Promotion of natural tooth repair by small molecule GSK3 antagonists (open, DOI: 10.1038/srep39654) (DX)

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  • (Score: 2) by richtopia on Thursday January 12 2017, @08:55PM

    by richtopia (3160) on Thursday January 12 2017, @08:55PM (#453063) Homepage Journal

    My materials science professor in school agreed with Colgate, although he also claimed that you could drink Mercury and not have an issue. I'm not terribly familiar with the bioavailablity of mercury, but I believe the liquid elemental form is poorly adsorbed.

    I would prefer metal fillings, as they do not need replacement as often. Unfortunately I doubt most dentist offices have the option any more, and additionally the dentist would likely be out of practice in working with the material.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @09:00PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @09:00PM (#453065)

    I wouldn't buy that argument. If it were actually true, then there'd be no point in lying to patients about what's being done to their bodies. Those fillings are mostly mercury, much of which goes missing over the first few years.

    Whats more, a lot of the fillings that are done are being done because the dentists failed to teach the patients how to keep their teeth strong and healthy. As in, they failed to teach the patients about proper nutrition, preferring to use the placebos of brushing and flossing even though there's no reason to think that they work. Yes, they do slow things down a bit, but bacteria are small and reproduce quickly. If your teeth aren't being properly fed, you're eventually going to get cavities. Similarly, flossing does pretty much nothing for the gums other than irritate them.

  • (Score: 2) by AthanasiusKircher on Friday January 13 2017, @03:22AM

    by AthanasiusKircher (5291) on Friday January 13 2017, @03:22AM (#453172) Journal

    Yeah, liquid Hg used to even be taken orally centuries ago for medical reasons (it's a known laxative). People rarely died from the treatments (though I wouldn't recommend it -- it does bioaccumulate and is a neurotoxin).

      Mercury is significantly more dangerous in vapor form (rapid absorption into bloodstream when inhaled), or in organic compounds (like the methyl mercury stuff found in fish and other even more toxic compounds).