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Dr Ronan Kennedy
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News - November 2021

New technique helps researchers understand how acid damages teeth

The University of Surrey and the School of Dentistry at the University of Birmingham have developed a new technique to improve understanding of how acid damages teeth at the microstructural level.
The researchers performed a technique called "in situ synchrotron x-ray microtomography" at Diamond Light Source, a special particle accelerator. Electrons were accelerated to near lightspeed to generate bright x-rays that were used to scan dentine samples while they were being treated with acid. This enabled the team to build clear 3D images of dentine's internal structure with sub-micrometre resolution. By analysing these images, the researchers conducted the first-ever time-resolved 3D study of the dentine microstructural changes caused by acid.
The study, published in Dental Materials, highlights that acid dissolves the minerals in different structures of dentine at different rates. This research aims to develop knowledge that will lead to new treatments that can restore the structure and function of dentine.
Dr Tan Sui, Senior Lecturer in Materials Engineering at the University of Surrey, who led the research group, said: "Relatively little is known about how exactly acid damages the dentine inside our teeth at a microstructural level. This new research technique changes that and opens the possibility of helping identify new ways to protect dental tissues and develop new treatments".
This research is part of an ongoing collaboration with Prof. Gabriel Landini and Dr Richard Shelton at the School of Dentistry, University of Birmingham.

From: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/10/211014141919.htms

The tooth on how the pandemic has affected our smiles

Survey data collected by the Oral Health Foundation and Align Technology has found the impact of the pandemic on the way UK adults view their smiles. More than half (58%) of British adults surveyed responded that they have changed the way they see their smile as a result of online video calls, with a third (33%) now more aware of the colour of their teeth and nearly a quarter (24%) more conscious about the alignment. The research shows that one-in-ten (11%) UK adults feels self-conscious seeing their smile during an online meeting.
The smile is one of the most important assets we have and is how we communicate our thoughts, emotions and feelings towards one another. Because of its prominence, and importance, the smile can also be a great source of concern for some people.
Dr Nigel Carter OBE of the Oral Health Foundation said: "The colour and shape of our teeth are the first things we tend to notice and feeling self-conscious is quite normal. What we must remember, however, is that the most important part of the smile is its health".
A healthy mouth can be achieved through an effective oral health routine at home as well as regular dental visits. The key components of an effective oral health routine are brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes, cleaning in between teeth daily with interdental brushes or floss, and cutting down on how much and how often you have sugary foods and drinks.

From: https://www.dentalhealth.org/news/the-tooth-on-how-the-pandemic-has-affected-our-smiles

Occupational risk of dentists examined in new study

The widespread availability of vaccines in developed nations has significantly changed the risk of dentists contracting Covid-19 in a workplace setting. Prior to this, however, dentists and other workers in occupations that typically involve close contact were widely believed to be at a relatively high risk of developing Covid-19. A new study out of Norway has sought to examine this idea further by comparing how this risk differed across occupations between the country’s two Covid-19 waves in 2020.
The study was conducted by researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, who used data from an emergency preparedness register for Covid-19 to form an observational study covering the entire Norwegian population between February 26 and December 18, 2020. The occupational groups chosen were: health (including dentists); teaching; retail; tourism and travel; catering; and, recreation and beauty. They were selected based on their high likelihood of direct, close contact with other people.
The researchers estimated and then compared the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases per 1,000 employed individuals for each of the country’s two Covid-19 waves — the first spanning from February 26 to July 17 and the second from July 18 to December 18. In total, just over 3.5 million Norwegian residents of working age were studied.
According to the study’s findings, during the first wave, dentists, doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals were approximately 2-3.5 times more likely to develop Covid-19 than all other Norwegians of working age. During the second wave, however, whereas doctors were moderately more likely to test positive for Covid-19, dentists were found to be no more likely to contract the virus than the average employed individual.

From: https://www.dental-tribune.com/news/occupational-risk-of-dentists-in-norway-examined-in-new-study/

IDS 2021 attracted 23,000 visitors from 114 countries

A total of 830 companies from 59 countries participated in the International Dental Show (IDS) 2021 in a gross exhibition space of 115,000 m² in Cologne, Germany. There were 228 exhibitors and five additionally represented companies from Germany, together with 591 exhibitors and six additionally represented companies from abroad. The foreign share of company participation was 72%. Including estimates for the last day of the fair, more than 23,000 trade show visitors from 114 countries attended IDS 2021. Of these visitors, around 57% came from abroad — from Europe, especially Italy, France, the Netherlands and Eastern Europe, as well as from the Middle East and overseas.
This IDS was the first to be held in a hybrid format, so that visitors who were unable to travel owing to restrictions were still able to participate digitally. IDSconnect, the digital platform of the fair, featured 77 exhibitors from 16 countries with 88 daily contributions and 1,310 minutes of broadcast time. Oliver Frese, chief operating officer of Koelnmesse, commented on the hybrid format in a press release: "We offered the physical meeting place here in Cologne in the exhibition halls and, in addition, the digital platform IDSconnect with added opportunities for presentations and networking, which was very well received”.
Mark Stephen Pace, chairman of the executive board of the Association of the German Dental Industry said: "Optimism has returned within the international dental family. We held intensive discussions with interested visitors and most of them ultimately came to make investment decisions".
The next IDS will take place from March 14-18, 2023.

From: https://www.dental-tribune.com/news/ids-2021-attracted-23000-visitors-from-114-countries/

Smart dental implants

Researchers are developing a smart dental implant that resists bacterial growth and generates its own electricity through chewing and brushing to power a tissue-rejuvenating light. The innovation could extend the usable life of an implant.
Implants represent a leap of progress over dentures or bridges, fitting much more securely and designed to last 20 years or more. But often implants fall short of that expectation, instead needing replacement in five to 10 years due to local inflammation or gum disease, necessitating a repeat of a costly and invasive procedure for patients.
Geelsu Hwang, an assistant professor in the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, who has a background in engineering that he brings to his research on oral health issues, says: "We wanted to address this issue, and so we came up with an innovative new implant".
The novel implant would implement two key technologies, Hwang says. One is a nanoparticle-infused material that resists bacterial colonisation. And the second is an embedded light source to conduct phototherapy, powered by the natural motions of the mouth, such as chewing or toothbrushing. In a paper in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces and a 2020 paper in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials, Hwang and colleagues lay out their platform, which could one day be integrated not only into dental implants but other technologies, such as joint replacements.
"We wanted an implant material that could resist bacterial growth for a long time because bacterial challenges are not a one-time threat," Hwang says.
The power-generating property of the material was sustained and in tests over time the material did not leach or harm gum tissue, and demonstrated a good level of mechanical strength.

From: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/09/210909141258.htm

Since periodontitis (gum disease) has been linked to systemic health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, research is continually being conducted to better understand its causes. To this end, a new Japanese study has interrogated the associations between genetic polymorphisms — the most common type of human genetic variation — oral microbiome statuses, and the development of periodontitis.
A team of researchers spread across several Japanese universities conducted the study. They first performed a cross-sectional analysis, during which they genotypically analysed 14,539 participants and carried out saliva sampling of a group of 385. Of this group, 22 individuals were retained for the study and divided into a periodontitis group and a control group based on their periodontal status.
The researchers explained that the development of infections, oral or otherwise, is affected by genetic differences among individuals, as these differences can affect susceptibility to certain pathogens and the likelihood of contracting certain diseases.
Upon examination, the research team found that the beta diversity of the microbes — the ratio between regional and local microbe species diversity — was significantly different between the periodontitis group and control group. Two bacterial families (Lactobacillaceae and Desulfobulbaceae), as well as the bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis, were found only in the periodontitis group. However, no relationship was found to exist between genetic polymorphism and periodontal status, suggesting that the make-up of one’s oral microbiome plays a greater role in periodontal health than genes do.
The study was published the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

From: https://ap.dental-tribune.com/news/links-between-oral-microbiome-genetic-variations-and-periodontitis-examined-in-new-study/

Pulling wisdom teeth can improve long-term taste function, research finds

Patients who had their wisdom teeth extracted had improved tasting abilities decades after having the surgery, a new Penn Medicine, USA study published in the journal Chemical Senses found. The findings challenge the notion that removal of wisdom teeth, only has the potential for negative effects on taste, and represent one of the first studies to analyse the long-term effects of extraction on taste.
Senior author Richard L. Doty, PhD, director of the Smell and Taste Center at the University of Pennsylvania said: "Prior studies have only pointed to adverse effects on taste after extraction and it has been generally believed that those effects dissipate over time. This new study shows us that taste function can actually slightly improve between the time patients have surgery and up to 20 years later. It's a surprising but fascinating finding that deserves further investigation to better understand why it's enhanced and what it may mean clinically”.
Doty and co-author Dane Kim evaluated data from 1,255 patients who had undergone a chemosensory evaluation at Penn's Smell and Taste Center over the course of 20 years. Among that group, 891 patients had received wisdom tooth extractions and 364 had not.
The "whole-mouth identification" test incorporates five different concentrations of sucrose, sodium chloride, citric acid, and caffeine. The extraction group outperformed the control group for each of the four tastes. The study suggests that people who have received extractions in the distant past experience, on average, an enhancement (typically a 3-10% improvement) in their ability to taste.

From: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/06/210628170521.htm

Tooth loss associated with increased cognitive impairment, dementia

Tooth loss is a risk factor for cognitive impairment and dementia – and with each tooth lost, the risk of cognitive decline grows, according to a new analysis led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and published in JAMDA: The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. However, this risk was not significant among older adults with dentures, suggesting that timely treatment with dentures may protect against cognitive decline.
Prior studies show a connection between tooth loss and diminished cognitive function, with researchers offering a range of possible explanations for this link. For one, missing teeth can lead to difficulty chewing, which may contribute to nutritional deficiencies or promote changes in the brain. A growing body of research also points to a connection between gum disease – a leading cause of tooth loss – and cognitive decline. In addition, tooth loss may reflect life-long socioeconomic disadvantages that are also risk factors for cognitive decline.
Dean's Professor in Global Health at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, Bei Wu and her colleagues conducted a meta-analysis using longitudinal studies of tooth loss and cognitive impairment. The 14 studies included in their analysis involved a total of 34,074 adults and 4,689 cases of people with diminished cognitive function.
The researchers found that adults with more tooth loss had a 1.48 times higher risk of developing cognitive impairment and 1.28 times higher risk of being diagnosed with dementia, even after controlling for other factors.
However, adults missing teeth were more likely to have cognitive impairment if they did not have dentures (23.8%) compared to those with dentures (16.9%); a further analysis revealed that the association between tooth loss and cognitive impairment was not significant when participants had dentures.

From: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/07/210708083904.htm

New report aims to improve VR use in healthcare education

A new report that could help improve how immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are used in healthcare education and training has been published.
Prof. David Peebles, Director of the University of Huddersfield’s Centre for Cognition and Neuroscience, and Huddersfield PhD graduate Matthew Pears contributed to the report. The work also involved another PhD researcher, Yeshwanth Pulijala, and Prof. Eunice Ma.
With only a relatively small number of dental schools in the UK, the quartet visited seven dental schools in India in early 2017 to test their VR-based training materials on students.
The report argues for greater standardisation of how to use immersive technologies in healthcare training and education. As Prof. Peebles explained: "Immersive technology is becoming increasingly popular and, as the technology is advancing, it's becoming clear that there is great potential to make training more accessible and effective”.
He continued: "Developing immersive training materials can be very time-consuming and difficult to evaluate properly. Getting surgeons and medical students to take time out to test your VR training is challenging. In our case we were lucky to have a surgeon, Prof. Ashraf Ayoub, a Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University of Glasgow, who granted us permission to film a surgical procedure that was then transformed into a 3D environment to train students about situation awareness while in the operating theatre”.
Prof. Peebles hopes the work so far will provide a basis for more investigations that could help get the most from the potential that VR and immersive technology have to offer.

From: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/07/210706115417.htm