Genes Linked to Cavities

Two recent papers y researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine and their collaborators suggest that specific genetic variations may be linked to higher rates of tooth decay (cavities) and aggressive periodontitis, which is inflammation and infection of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth. Dental cavities have been found to be influenced by individual variations in a gene called beta defensin 1(DEFB1), which plays a key role in the first-line immune response against invading germs. For one of the studies, the researchers analyzed nearly 300 anonymous dental records and accompanying saliva samples from the their dental registry, assigning each case a DMFT score based on the presence of decayed teeth, missing teeth due to caries, and tooth fillings. In addition each case also received a DMFS score, based on decayed teeth, missing teeth, and filled … Read more

Lasers to Detect Tooth Enamel

A group of researchers in Australia and Taiwan led by Wang, Fleming, and their colleagues showed that they could analyze the health of  extracted human teeth using lasers. This is done by measuring how the surface of a tooth responds to laser-generated ultrasound. This allows them to then valuate the mineral content of tooth enamel. Enamel is the hardest and most mineralized substance of the human body which engulfs teeth in a protective layer. Enamel constantly undergoes a cycle of mineral loss and restoration, in which healthy teeth maintain a high mineral content. If the balance between mineral loss and gain is lost, teeth can develop areas of softened enamel which are precursors to cavities and damaged teeth. This research could lead to the ability to assess oral health and predict emerging dental problems, such as tooth decay and cavities … Read more