All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth, Regenerated By tom North

     If you are like me with false teeth, you might find this interesting, if not amusing: scientists have discovered a way of making teeth repair themselves: 

“Sharpe [the research scientist involved] suspected he could dramatically boost teeth’s natural healing ability by mobilizing stem cells in the dental pulp. Earlier research had demonstrated the Wnt signaling pathway—a particular cascade of molecules involved in cell-to-cell communication—is essential for tissue repair and stem cell development in many parts of the body such as the skin, intestines and brain.

Sharpe wondered: Could this signaling pathway also be important for self-repair processes in teeth? If so, maybe exposing damaged teeth to drugs that stimulate Wnt signaling would similarly encourage the activity of stem cells in the dental pulp—giving teeth the kind of regenerative superpowers usually seen only in plants, salamanders and starfish. To test this idea, Sharpe and his fellow researchers drilled holes into the molars of mice, mimicking cavities.

They then soaked tiny collagen sponges (which are made from the same protein found in dentin) in various drugs known to stimulate Wnt signaling, including tideglusib, a compound that has been investigated in clinical trials for its potential to treat Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders. The scientists then placed these drug-soaked sponges in the drilled mouse molars, sealed them up and left them for four to six weeks.

The teeth treated with these drugs produced significantly more dentin than ones untreated or stuffed with an unsoaked sponge or typical dental fillers. In most cases the technique restored the rodents’ pearly whites to their former intact state. “It was essentially a complete repair,” Sharpe says. “You can barely see the joint where the old and new dentin meet. This could eventually be the first routine pharmaceutical treatment in dentistry.”

     All that is fine, but probably the best thing to do is to look after one’s God-given teeth in the first place. Unfortunately, for me, my folks all lost their teeth in their teens and knew nothing about dental hygiene, so I basically followed down their path. Oh, to be able to eat a big juicy steak, or munch on something harder than oatmeal in milk!



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Tuesday, 16 July 2024

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