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Gel developed that could treat tooth decay

Wed

A new gel that dissolves tooth decay could soon be a viable alternative to the dreaded dentist’s drill, if new scientific research is to be believed; the gel, which is made from a compound of fruits and leaves from the papaya tree, softens decayed minerals so that they can be easily scraped away and replaced with filler material. In some cases, patients won’t even need a local anaesthetic for the treatment.

The gel has been undergoing clinical trials in Brazil and researchers are hopeful that it could have applications with other areas of dental treatment, in particular with treating children who might be nervous about the dentist’s drill. Hugh Devlin, professor of restorative dentistry at the University of Manchester commented on the research, saying ‘This is an interesting material, and may be useful treating young children. However, we still need more research before this type of gel can be adopted into mainstream dentistry.’

The gel is currently being tested on twenty patients, using a placebo gel alongside it, to compare the effects. Early results have been positive and the team hope to release it onto the market within the next three years, providing the human trials are successful long-term. Hugh added that ‘Generally, we need more spending on research into restorative dentistry to produce similar developments in this country.’

Could dental scans identify patients at risk of osteoporosis?

Tue

Dentists at Manchester University have had a break through with new technology Osteodent, which they hope will help to identify patients who are at risk of osteoporosis years before the condition develops. Osteoporosis reduces the density of the bones, which weakens their structure and leaves them prone to breakage; until now, the illness could only be diagnosed after bone damage becomes apparent.

Researchers have now discovered that deterioration in the jaw bone can reveal early on whether this is a problem in other areas of the body. The study involved 5,000 dental x-rays from patients between the ages of 15 and 94, and it showed that accelerated bone loss in the jaw was indicative of similar problems elsewhere in the body. With these results, the dentists have developed software that can assess the patient’s future risk of the disease, allowing them to investigate the problem further before it takes hold.

Hugh Devlin, professor of restorative dentistry at Manchester University developed the technique with several of his colleagues; he explains ‘Dentists are uniquely positioned to provide such a service as they see patients regularly and routinely perform x-ray examinations. Software such as Osteodent could save lives and, with early diagnosis and treatment, including preventative therapy, this could save the NHS many millions of pounds too.’

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