Genetic Defects in Tooth Enamel Can Lead to Cavities

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Published by CDA Journal: Vol 45, N°4:

Research from the University of Zurich have pinpointed a gene complex that is responsible for the formation of tooth enamel. according to a study published in the weekly journal Science Signaling in February.

Two teams from the Centre of Dental Medicine and the Institute of Molecular Life Sciences used mice with varying mutations of the enamel proteins involved in the so-Wnt signaling pathway. Thanks to this transmission route, human and animal cells respond to external signals and specifically activate selected genes in the cell nucleus. The signaling pathway is essential for embryonal development and plays a pivotal role in development of cancer or physical malformations.

“All mice with mutations in these proteins exhibit teeth with enamel defects,” said Pierfrancesco Pagella, co-author of the study. “Therefore, we demonstrated that there is a direct link between mutations in these proteins and the development of tooth enamel defects.”

The teams discovered that three particular proteins involved in the Wnt signaling pathway aren’t just involved in the development of severe illnesses, but also in the qualitative refinement of highly developed tissue. “If the signal transmission isn’t working properly, the structure of the tooth enamel can change,” said co-author Claudio Cantù.

The hardness and composition of the tooth enamel can affect the progression of cavities. Research revealed that tooth decay isn’t just linked to bacteria, but also the tooth’s resistance, said Thimios Mitsiadis, professor of oral biology at the Center of Dental Medicine. Bacteria and their toxic products can easily penetrate enamel with a less stable structure, which leads to carious lesions even if oral hygiene is maintained, according to the study.

Understanding the molecular-biological connections of tooth enamel development and the impact of mutations that lead to enamel defects opens up new possibilities for the prevention of cavities. “New products that hinder the progress of tooth cavities in the event of defective tooth enamel will enable us to improve the dental health of patients considerably,” Mitsiadis said.

Learn more about this study in Science Signaling 10 (465) (2017).

Published by Journal of California Dental Association (CDA), Volume 45, N°4. April 2017.

Brains, Teeth May Have Not Co-Evolved

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A new study from the George Washington University Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology suggests that human brains and teeth did not evolve in lockstep and were likely influenced by different ecological and behavioral factors.
This research published in the January issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences challenges the classically accepted view that reduction of tooth size in hominins is linked with having a larger brain. The reasoning is that the larger brains allowed hominins to start making stone tools, which helped reduce the need for large chewing teeth. But recent studies by other authors found that hominins had larger brains before chewing teeth became smaller, and they made and used stone stools when brains were still quite small, which challenges this relationship.
The new study evaluates this issue by measuring and comparing the rates at which teeth and brains have evolved along the different branches of the human evolutionary tree. Researchers analyzed eight different hominin species, identifying fast-evolving species by comparing differences between groups with those obtained when simulating evolution at a constant rate across all lineages. They found clear differences between tooth evolution and brain evolution.
Considering the classical view that proposes co-evolution, researchers expected to see a close correspondence between species evolving at a fast rate for both traits. The differences they observed indicate that diverse and unrelated factors influenced the evolution of teeth and brains.
This article is cited by Journal of California Dental Association, Volume 45, N° 4. April 2017.
For more about this study, see the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114(3)468-473(2017).
 

Surgeon General Report: E-Cigarette Use Is A “Major Public Health Concern.”

The ADA News (12/8, Manchir) reports that the US Surgeon General said in a report released Dec. 7 that e-cigarette use among youth has been increasing in recent years at an “alarming rate,” and public health professionals, parents, and others must work together to address it. “All Americans need to know that e-cigarettes are dangerous to youth and young adults,” said US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy in a news release about the report. “We need parents, teachers, health care providers and other influencers to help make it clear that e-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals and are not okay for kids to use.”

The surgeon general’s office also in December launched a new, consumer friendly website, E-cigarettes. SurgeonGeneral.gov, aimed at educating parent and adult influencers of young people about e-cigarette use.

This article is re-posted from ADA Morning Huddle. For more information about the ADA’s involvement in tobacco issues, visit ADA.org/prevention.

New York Post: Oral Health Issues May Indicate “Serious Health” Problems.

The New York Post (12/6, Shea) reports that oral health issues can indicate “serious health issues,” ranging from “digestive troubles to diabetes.” The article discusses what health conditions may be revealed by problems with gums, teeth, saliva, lips, and breath. For example, xerostomia may be an indicator of Sjögren’s syndrome, while red and bleeding gums may be a sign of gum disease or diabetes. In another example, the article reports that halitosis may result from poor oral hygiene practices but could also be a sign of acid reflux.
TIME (12/6) carries a Health.com article that also discusses the association between poor oral health and other health conditions, stating “research suggests that the condition of your gums is connected to a variety of health issues,” such as heart disease. The article stresses the importance of cleaning between teeth every day to remove debris and help prevent plaque buildup.
The Oral Health Topics on ADA.org and MouthHealthy.org provide additional information on xerostomia for dental professionals and for patients. MouthHealthy.org also provides information for patients on gum disease, diabetes and oral health, halitosis, heart disease and oral health, and flossing, including the correct flossing technique.

(Re-post from ADA Morning Huddle)

Study Finds Association Between Poor Oral Health And Heart Disease.

RE-POST FROM ADA MORNING HUDDLE:
Prevention Magazine (11/2) carries the story first published in Men’s Health reporting that a new study from Finland suggests poor oral health may affect heart health. Researchers examined “the teeth and the arteries of more than 500 people,” finding that those needing a root canal were “nearly three times more likely to have acute coronary syndrome” than “patients with healthy teeth.” Study author Dr. John Liljestrand suggests the bacteria from the tooth infection may spread to other parts of the body, including the heart. Dr. Liljestrand recommends brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and regular dental visits to help reduce the risk of tooth decay.
 
MouthHealthy.org provides additional information on root canal treatment, oral health, and heart disease and oral health.

Dentist Uses Smartphone To Create 3D-Printed Face Prosthesis For Cancer Survivor.

RE-POST FROM ADA MORNING HUDDLE:
 
Dentist Uses Smartphone To Create 3D-Printed Face Prosthesis For Cancer Survivor.
 
The New York Post (11/2, Tousignant) reports that Dr. Rodrigo Salazar, a dentist and specialist in oral rehabilitation, used a smartphone and low-cost printer to create a 3D-printed face prosthesis for Carlito Conceiao, of Sao Paulo, Brazil. In 2008, Conceiao was diagnosed with upper maxillary carcinoma, an “aggressive mouth cancer that damaged his throat and destroyed facial tissue.” While surgeons were able to operate before the cancer spread to Conceiao’s brain, the surgery required removing one of Conceiao’s eye sockets and part of his nose.
The Daily Mail (11/2, Mailonline) reports that for the “ground-breaking procedure,” Dr. Salazar from Paulista University (UNIP) in Sao Paulo used a free smartphone app called Autodesk 123D Catch to turn photos into the 3D model used to create the prosthesis. “We’ve developed an alternative and simplified low-cost procedure that captures patients’ facial anatomy and generates physical working models, giving us the equivalent results to prostheses produced on state-of-the-art equipment that costs hundreds of thousands of pounds,” said Dr. Salazar, who has been leading the project for two years.
MouthHealthy.org and the Oral Health Topics on ADA.org provide information on oral and oropharyngeal cancer for patients and for dental professionals.
 

Researchers Find Associations Between Gum Disease And Several Health Problems.

RE-POST FROM ADA MORNING HUDDLE:

The Washington Post (10/1, Levingston) reported that researchers are finding potential links “between gum or periodontal disease” and several different types of health problems. Although “experts are far from understanding what these links might mean,” the “links between gum disease and diabetes, at-risk pregnancy, heart disease and stroke have been so consistent that some insurers offer extra preventive periodontal care at little or no cost to people with those conditions.” The article pointed out that according to the CDC “nearly half of all Americans age 30 and older have some form of gum disease; in people 65 and older, 70 percent have some degree of periodontal disease.” The article noted, “Signs of gum disease include bleeding, red or swollen gums; areas where the gum seems separated from the teeth; bad breath; and loose teeth, which can cause changes in your bite, according to the American Dental Association.”

MouthHealthy.org also provides information for patients gum disease, heart disease and oral health, and diabetes and oral health.