from the world's big
New evidence that teeth can fill their own cavities
A drug developed to combat Alzheimer’s Disease can trigger regeneration of tooth dentin.
- New research into the drug Tideglusib clarifies what it can do for damaged teeth.
- Tooth dentin can be regrown instead of needing to be replaced with man-made composite.
- Only particular cavities need apply.
Pretty much anyone can do a disturbingly accurate imitation of the sound of a dentists's drill at varying speeds as it prepares a tooth cavity for filling. It's not an experience most people savor, and it takes a special kind of person to choose to spend eight hours a day — except Wednesdays — inside other people's mouths.
A few years ago, researchers suggested that low doses of a small molecule glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) antagonist — in the form of anti-Alzheimer's drug Tideglusib — applied to a decayed area could stimulate the coronal pulp in a tooth to repair itself. Now scientists at King's College in London have expanded upon that research and found further evidence that Tideglusib may indeed provide a pathway toward self-healing teeth. The new research is published as a paper in the Journal of Dental Research.
Drilling may still be necessary, unfortunately, to clean decay from the affected area before treatment.
Three layers in a tooth
Image source: BruceBlaus Wikimedia
The are three elements to the structure of a tooth:
- The outer enamel — The hard outer mineralized layer that protects the tooth structure
- The dentin — Hard, calcified tissue protecting the structure's soft inner regio.
- The soft dental pulp — The inside of the tooth. It contains the tooth's nerve, blood vessels, and connective tissue.
When you get a cavity, the outer enamel has a hole in it. With that outer protection breached, infecting bacteria nestle in, causing decay that burrows ever-deeper into the tooth, causing damage to its inner layers. To repair it using traditional methods, a dentist cleans bacteria from out the inside of cavity before filling it with a cement composite that replaces the lost natural dentin.
Building new dentin
Image source: Quang Tri Nguyen/Unsplash
"In the last few years we showed that we can stimulate natural tooth repair by activating resident tooth stem cells. This approach is simple and cost effective. The latest results show further evidence of clinical viability and brings us another step closer to natural tooth repair." — lead author Paul Sharpe
Share and his colleagues were interested in understanding how large a damaged area could be repaired with Tideglusib, and where, and they hoped to analyze the composition of repaired dentin in comparison to naturally occurring dentin and/or bone.
The researchers confirmed that Tideglusib can cause the generation of sufficient replacement dentin to be of use. The paper asserts that the drug can "fully repair an area of dentin damage up to 10 times larger." More than enough to be of value.
Second, Sharpe and his team learned that Tideglusib works only on a particular kind of tooth material: the coronal pulp, that region of pulp extending to the crown of the tooth. They also learned that the drug must be applied only to the affected area to be effective, finding that untreated areas of pulp, notably the root pulp, are not adversely affected by treatment, a good thing.
Finally, analyzing repaired dentin using Raman microspectroscopy, the researchers determined that the generated dentin is chemically quite similar to natural dentin, being comprised of a similar ratios of carbonate and phosphate and mineral-to-matrix as natural dentin.
The next regeneration
One limiting factor in the use of Tideglusib, therefore, is that the coronal pulp must be exposed in a cavity in order to be treated. Nonetheless, the research stands as confirmation not only of this specific drug's talent for triggering dentin regeneration, but of something even bigger and more intriguing: That teeth have the ability to repair themselves.
There's a great deal of investigation these days into the possibilities of humans regenerating body parts much as other animals such as salamanders and axolotls do. How far all of this research will get remains an open question for now, but undoubtedly remains one of the most exciting areas of current medical research.
Join multiple Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Judith Light live on Big Think at 2 pm ET on Monday.
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Many of the most popular apps are about self-improvement.
Emotions are the newest hot commodity, and we can't get enough.
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Building a personal connection with students can counteract some negative side effects of remote learning.