Dental Checkup - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/11/04

Dental Checkup

Lost a tooth? You are not alone. Over age 50, many people have lost up to 12 teeth including their wisdom teeth. Not to worry. Soon it may be possible to grow your own.

Researchers in Britain are about 2 years away from testing a method of growing teeth in humans. Stem cells or master cells programmed to develop into teeth have been transplanted into mouse jaws where they grew into teeth. They expect the tooth to grow to normal size in about 2 months.

Currently, dentists can implant artificial teeth into the jaw. A living tooth would be much better because it would help to maintain healthy surrounding tissues. With the ability to grow normal teeth, this could mean the end to dentures.

While some stem cell research is controversial, this should not cause any problem. English researchers have found that all those teeth that have been whisked away by the tooth fairy are a great source of stem cells.

Scientists can use the stem cells recovered from baby teeth to grow teeth as well as connective tissue such as bone, muscle, and cartilage.

Chronic gum disease plagues about one third of adults. It also plays a role in stroke, heart disease, and even low-weight babies. It has long been known that bacteria in the mouth play a role in gum disease. Now another culprit has been identified. It is another microbe, arachaea.

The arachaea looks like bacteria but, genetically and biochemically, it is different. These microbes live under extreme conditions in nature, in volcanoes and in hot springs. In animals, they live in the colon, the vagina, and the mouth.

While researchers at the University of California at San Francisco and Stanford cannot say that arachaea cause gingivitis, they state that they are only found in the sub-gingival spaces and undoubtedly play a role in promoting gum disease and the severity of the disease.

This discovery improves the understanding of gum disease which may in turn lead to better prevention and treatment.

Finally, have a problem with bad breath? Chew gum. Well that does not seem like startling news, but it isn't just any gum. Researchers at the University of Illinois in Chicago say that Big Red should be the gum of choice. Apparently, the cinnamon base is the key.

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