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Arsenal player suffers dental accident


Arsenal footballer Mikel Arteta suffered tooth loss mid-match this weekend after a first-half collision with George Boyd of Hull City; pitch-side photographers even captured the moment when the players collided and Arteta’s tooth came flying out of the socket.

The two footballers clashed and Arteta caught Boyd’s swinging arm right in the mouth; his front tooth was immediately knocked out and the player was left with a huge space between his front teeth. Hull City’s George Boyd narrowly avoided a caution for the incident despite the photographic evidence of the accident and the subsequent damage to Arteta’s teeth.

Gunners captain Arteta now faces a trip to the dentist to have the tooth replaced but he decided to put dental treatment on hold to help his side secure victory and another three points. He didn’t seem to be suffering too much after the accident and was pleased with his team’s performance. Arsenal are currently sitting firmly in fourth place of the Premier League and Arteta will be hoping that a second meeting with the Hull side will lead to victory next month; the two teams are due to face each other again in the FA Cup final at Wembley on May 17th.

Tooth loss should be taken more seriously says Newcastle University


Researchers at Newcastle University have revealed that tooth loss should be seen as a serious condition, as some patients who have to deal with losing teeth have described the distress as comparable to that of losing a limb. Several participants said that they avoided leaving the house after suffering tooth loss and others reported that they felt like failures because they needed dentures to replace lost teeth.

According to the study, which has been published in the journal Sociology of Health and Illness, tooth loss can be as disruptive to people’s lives as some chronic medical conditions. Researcher Dr Nikki Rousseau said ‘We were surprised by the impact that tooth loss had on people. Tooth loss isn’t usually thought of as an illness or taken as seriously as needing a knee replacement for example. People feel it’s acceptable to make jokes about false teeth, but we may have underestimated the distress that tooth loss causes.’

Thirty-nine adults from the North-East of England, aging between mid-twenties and eighty, were asked about their experiences with tooth loss and the subsequent treatment for it. Following the startling results, Dr Catherine Exley, project leader and senior lecturer at Newcastle University, said ‘Maybe that is something we need to look at and we should start to view tooth loss more like a chronic illness which needs to be treated.’

People in Tyneside are more likely to suffer tooth loss


A new report has revealed that people living in the North of England – more specifically the Tyneside area – are more likely to have lost all their teeth, compared to the rest of the country’s population. When asked, 18% of people who said they had not been to see the dentist in two years said that this was because they had no natural teeth remaining. The region has always had a higher number of people without teeth, in comparison to their counterparts in southern areas.

Head of the School of Dental Sciences at Newcastle University, Professor Jimmy Steele, said that the results did not come as a shock to him; he commented that ‘The findings of the report do not surprise me as we know that the North tends to have a higher proportion of people with no teeth than those in the south. Some of the reason for this are quite historical, as a lot of people in the area lost their teeth a long time ago, but the rate of tooth loss has been falling.’

Professor Steele went on to add that this problem was not generally related to the dental services on offer, saying ‘We know that dental services are generally very good in the north and the need for NHS dental services is high. All health is quite strong related to socioeconomic factors and there ARE significant health inequalities in the north.’

Tooth loss could cause memory problems


New research has suggested that losing our teeth could actually cause memory loss, due to sensory impulses that are fed to the brain from the jaw bone as the teeth chew on food; these impulses feed the area of the brain that forms and retrieves memories. People who have suffered tooth loss transmit fewer signals to the region called the hippocampus, which inhibits memory; the two conditions are thought to be ‘uniquely and significantly’ linked, according to recent tests.

During tests, older people who still had most of their teeth had on average a 4% better memory than those without; these results could also be down to the chewing action, which increases blood flow to the brain. The study was carried out by universities in Norway and Sweden, it included 273 participants aged between 55 and 80; the results were published online by the European Journal of Oral Sciences. Participants underwent a series of memory tests to see if the number of teeth they had lost would affect recall.

The author’s hypothesis suggested that tooth loss would alter the brains episodic memory, recall, and recognition; the results were found to be in line with this idea. The study stated that ‘Alone, number of natural teeth could account for 20% of the variance in episodic recall, 15% of the variance in episodic recognition, and 14% of the variance in semantic memory.’ It was also suggested that dental implant could ‘restore sensory input to some extent’, although they would not be as effective as natural teeth.

Dinosaurs may be first creatures to develop toothache


Scientists from China, the USA, and Canada have been studying the fossilised jawbone of a Sinosaurus and have discovered that the animal, presumed to have lived around 190 million years ago, could be the earliest creature to suffer with toothache. X-rays were taken of the teeth and it was found that some of them were damaged, possibly after the dinosaur bit into something hard.

Co-author of the report Xing LiDa told China Daily that ‘It was common for carnivorous dinosaurs to lose teeth, but this specimen we were studying was different. Its tooth socket was completely filled, which indicates the tooth loss was because of dental problems instead of external force.’ The skull was found in Lufeng Basin of the Yunnan province in 2007 and was expected to have 13 or 14 upper teeth, but was found to have several broken teeth still in the sockets. Zing explained the apparent damage, saying ‘When the dinosaur’s teeth were lost or removed while it was alive, the bony socket remodelled over time, so that there was no longer a tooth socket.’

The researchers also found that this kind of problem was common with mammals but not with reptiles, such as dinosaurs. Canadian Palaeontologist Phil R Bell suggested that the Sinosaurus might have damaged its teeth while eating hard nuts, he also added that ‘The study of disease and other abnormalities in the fossil record can reveal unique insights into the behaviour, biology and development of extinct animals. For example, among theropod dinosaurs, injury-related trauma like bites, exostoses, fractures, infection and stress fractures are the overriding cause of osteopathy.’

Eddie ‘The Eagle’ talks about his dental treatment


His prominent jaw and huge specs might have been what made him recognisable to so many, but Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards decided that his public image wasn’t worth sacrificing his dental health, and had his jaw broken to save his natural teeth.

‘My dentist told me that because my front teeth didn’t meet, my back teeth were grabbing at food and being ground away,’ Eddie explains. The 49-year-old also had permanent contact lenses placed so that he doesn’t have to wear his famous chunky glasses when taking part in sporting events. He went on to add that the treatment was not due to vanity, purely for ‘dental reasons’, to prevent further damage to the back teeth and eventual tooth loss.

The underbite Eddie suffered with growing up already cost him eight adult teeth, so he underwent a procedure that involved breaking the bottom jaw and moving it back, then fracturing the top jaw to shift it forward. The former Olympian said ‘The operation wasn’t too uncomfortable but I had to have my jaw wired together for five weeks. I lived off soups, custard, and milkshakes. I had a morphine pump for the pain, which was great for when I wanted to go to sleep. I just had to give it a pump.’ He also added that the front teeth were in pretty good condition, ‘because they had so little to do over the years.’

Man’s best friend could give you gum disease


New research has shown that people who kiss their dogs or allow them to lick their mouths are at risk of catching gum disease and may subsequently suffer tooth loss as the bacteria passes from the pet to the owner and infects the gums. Without proper treatment, gum disease can cause the supporting tissue to fail and the teeth to loosen in the sockets, before eventually falling out completely.

A large percentage of dogs suffer from periodontitis (gum disease) and the harmful microbe that causes this condition was found to be present in 16% of owners tested – even though it should not naturally be part of a human beings system, suggesting that close-contact relationships between owner and pet were to blame. According to the new research, even low-level contact can still result in transmission that could put the owner’s oral health at risk.

Dr Paul Maza of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University explained that cleaning the dogs teeth could help lower the chances of transmission; ‘Many of the different types of bacteria in dogs and cats are the same type of bacteria as in humans. If owners practice oral hygiene on their pets, such as brushing their teeth, a pet’s mouth can actually be even cleaner than a human mouth.’ 

Manchester Science Festival to exhibit sculpture made out of children’s milk teeth


By the end of October, artist Gina Czarnecki is hoping to have collected enough baby teeth from children to cover a four foot fairy-tale palace, which is to be displayed as part of the Manchester Science Festival. Although it is mainly for artistic purposes, there is some depth to the exhibition, with organisers hoping to highlight what happens to waste body parts when they are removed or fall out.

Festival organisers said that the sculpture ‘aims to explore the issue of waste body parts, such as fat from liposuction or bones from joint replacements, and how these could be used for stem cell regeneration.’ They went on to describe what the finished product will look like, saying  ‘As more people donate their teeth, the Palace will grow over time like a coral reef, to form a stalagmite-like structure of crystal resin, encrusted in barnacle formations using baby teeth donated by children in the UK and around the world.’

Artist Czarnecki explained that she didn’t want to lose the magic associated with tooth loss, so she suggested that the children leave something else for the tooth fairy, such as a letter or token gift, ‘which means they can still receive money but the tooth is left behind to donate to the palace.’ She also encourages children to look at stories and drawings from other cultures to find out more about what happens to milk teeth in different countries.

Could lasers lower disease-related tooth loss in the UK?


Most people in the UK will develop gum disease in one form or another, and the painful condition can lead to extensive tooth loss if it is not dealt with properly in the early stages. While periodontitis may be a worry for some of us, the hope is that a new dental laser could be the answer to serious gum disorders.

Waterlase is a treatment that involves spraying a mixture of water and air into the mouth, then a laser causes the water molecules to explode, destroying diseased tissue and cleaning away bacteria. This might sound painful, but it can actually be used without the need for local anaesthetic as the laser doesn’t come into contact with the body.

Jackie Cooper, of distribution company Henry Schien, said that the process is ‘painless’, despite the fact that most people associate lasers with heat; according to Jackie all the patient will be aware of is ‘’a harmless popping in their mouths as the water molecules explode.’ Dentist Rana Al-Falaki of Buckhurst Hill, Essex, was also singing its praises, saying she is able to remove much more tartar and bacteria than with previous methods, and adding that patients who would previously have been referred for invasive surgery can now take advantage of a much easier procedure using Waterlase. The price for this type of treatment is generally between £700 and £900, for an entire mouth procedure.

Scientists hoping to develop ‘grow your own’ teeth


Using Japanese puffer-fish as a template, scientists at Sheffield University are hoping to discover a way of renewing human teeth over an average lifespan, to give people who have suffered tooth loss a natural alternative to dentures or bridges. Puffer-fish have a beak with four teeth that are constantly renewed every few weeks, and researchers are investigating the chemical process in the hopes that something similar can be artificially developed for humans – who, like most mammals, only have two sets of teeth during their lifetime.

Dr Gareth Fraser from the University’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences spoke about what first drew him to the puffer-fish as an example of renewable teeth; ‘When I saw this beak I thought it was really weird. We quickly realised it is a very interesting structure which developed as a result of tooth replacement… this fish could give us a clue as to how it grows its teeth so humans no longer have to rely on dentures or implants. Wisdom teeth have already shown that late growth is possible.’

Dr Fraser went on to talk about the structure of the beak, saying that it was made out of dentine bands stacked together, each one representing a replacement tooth that would grow in the future. ‘It is an example of re-specification of its genetic tool-kit for tooth development toward a very alternatives, and unique, dentition.’

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