Scientists have been using an unlikely subject in research to see how people can adapt to dental implants – a reptile called a tuatara.
Found in New Zealand, these lizard-like creatures have teeth that are fused to their jaw bone, something dentists putting in dental implants try to mimic in people.
Researchers from the University of Hull, University College London and the Hull York Medical School made a 3D model of the tuatara’s jaw to see how its brain regulates chewing to avoid damaging its teeth, something which people with dental implants must also be doing.
Professor Douglas Kell, chief executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, said: “This research indicates a level of redundancy in our biology that opens opportunities to support long-term health and wellbeing.”
Dr Marc Jones from University College London added that they wanted to find out how the brain still knows what is going on in the mouth, even when the periodontal ligament that should attach the tooth to the jaw is gone.
Last month, Dr Tim Miller, who runs a practice in San Rafael in the US, said people may recover more quickly from dental implants if they keep an ice pack on their face straight afterwards.