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Could fillings become a thing of the past?


Scientists may have potentially discovered a way to banish fillings into the history books, after new research showed promising results. The drug, Tideglusib, has been used in trials for Alzheimer’s patients, but has also shown the potential to repair cavities and stimulate the regrowth of teeth.

The discovery was made by researchers at King’s College London. The findings showed that the drug caused stimulation of the stem cells that are present in the tooth pulp, which in turn generated the production of new dentine underneath the enamel. The teeth can naturally regenerate dentine when the pulp undergoes trauma, however this is only ever a very thin layer, therefore would not be enough to make big repairs, such as a cavity. The new drug is said to disengage a certain enzyme known as GSK-3, which prevents the dentine layer from continuously forming. With this enzyme continuously working, the teeth are potentially enabled to rebuild and re-grow.

Scientists showed results from experiments undertaken, where a small piece of biodegradable sponge was soaked in the drug and inserted into the decayed area of the tooth. This triggered natural tooth growth and the cavity was fully repaired within six weeks. Although in the early stages, these new findings are very promising for the future of dentistry and dental health.

Fear of dental pain may be worse than the pain itself


According to new research from scientists, patients that are afraid of suffering pain at the hands of the dentist may find that their fear of the pain is actually worse than the pain itself. The findings at Imperial College London may help doctors and dentists to arrange treatment schedules to minimise worry for the patients by getting painful treatments over with faster.

Lead researcher Dr Giles Story said that ‘When people are offered a reward, they prefer to have it as soon as possible, which could be interpreted to mean that we rate future experiences as less important when we’re making decisions.’ He also added that ‘this reasoning would suggest that you would put off unpleasant things to the future as well.’ However, the research revealed that the opposite was actually true; Dr Story explained that ‘If pain can’t be avoided, most people choose to get it out of the way sooner, even if that means the pain is worse.’

The study involved 35 participants choosing between electric shocks of increasing strength, in 71% of tests, people chose to have the more intense pain to start with. The same was found when volunteers had to choose between imaginary dental appointments that had different levels of pain.

Dr Story surmised that ‘The findings would also suggest that deadlines or other ways of making something inevitable is more likely to result in you choosing to get it out of the way, even if it is something you are dreading.’

Could ‘spray-on teeth’ be the answer to enamel repair?


A new development by scientists at King’s College London and Imperial College London could help rebuild teeth that have suffered severe enamel damage; ‘spray-on teeth’ contains calcium that can repair deterioration affecting the hard outer shell of the teeth, covering up any exposed dentin beneath it and making the teeth stronger overall.

Wear and tear or on-going consumption of acidic beverages can lead to enamel erosion, which can make the teeth sensitive and painful; the research is aimed at solving this problem and strengthening the enamel to get rid of sensitivity. According to the scientists who are developing the spray, it contains a type of calcium that can block the tiny tubes in the dentin layer – which expose the inner pulp to outside temperatures. To use, the spray is held a few millimetres from the teeth and compressed so that it projects a dry powder that builds up the dentin and protects the tooth. As well as rebuilding the enamel, the powder contains a mild abrasive so dental stains should also be reduced.

Researchers are hoping that the product could also be useful with orthopaedic surgery to encourage regeneration of damaged bones.

Post-war emergency dentistry student leaves legacy to college


A dentistry training college has received a generous legacy.A dentist who learnt how to perform root canal treatments and other kinds of emergency dentistry after World War II has left a generous legacy after her death.

Diana Trebble (nee Jennings) trained at Kings College London in the late 1940s before going on to take over practices in Ealing and then Minehead.

However, when she died recently, it was found that she had left two-thirds of her estate to the college in order to allow other students to learn as she did.

This amounts to more than £1 million and will be used to create the open Diana Trebble PhD Scholarship.

Head of the Dental Institute Professor Nairn Wilson said: "The Dental Institute is thrilled to receive this most generous gift from the late Mrs Trebble."

King's College London currently trains one-fifth of all dentists in England and Wales and is the largest dental academic centre in the UK.

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