Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Cow collagen and gum recession...

Gum recession can occur for a variety of reasons, but it is typically associated with poor dental hygiene, over-brushing or mouth based piercings rubbing on the gums. When the loss of gum becomes severe, it is sometimes possible to use gum grafts and surgery to regenerate the gum line, preventing damage to the tooth or tooth root and improving the aesthetic appearance of the dentition.

However, recent research may have dispensed with the need for such surgery. Researchers in Germany and Switzerland have trialled the use of bovine collagen (extracted from the fluid filled sac that surrounds the bovine heart) in humans, to repair the gums of fourteen patients. The collagen was implanted next to the tooth, held in place with surgical thread and left in place to allow the bodies own cells to repair the damage (Figure 1, below).

Figure 1: Showing (A) teeth before treatment, note the multiple recessions above the teeth, (B) shows the incisions created in the gum for (C) the insertion of the collagen and finally (D) demonstrates the healed dentition at six months after intervention. (After Schlee et al. Head & Face Medicine 2012 8:6)

The results have been promising, with the functional and aesthetic appearance of the gum-line improving in many of the patients after a period of six months - in 36 of the 62 recession lesions treated for example, full root coverage was achieved.

So, as odd as it might sound, cow collagen may be the answer to gum recession for people who are unable to have corrective periodontal surgery, if longer term studies prove its staying power. Which is very moo-ving, I think you'll agree.

(Sorry about that. It's the only cow based pun I could come up with.)

Schlee et al. Bovine pericardium based non-cross linked collagen matrix for successful root coverage, a clinical study in humans in Head & Face Medicine 2012 8:6  doi:10.1186/1746-160X-8-6. 
Available at: http://www.head-face-med.com/content/8/1/6
Cow collagen heals gums. Available at http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v212/n6/full/sj.bdj.2012.238.html.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Up to your hind teeth in work? You might want to relax a bit...

Most academics are aware that their career choice might not be very good for them - late nights, smoking, takeaway food and the occasional (okay, regular) few pints after seminars all contribute to a less than healthy lifestyle. However, recent research has revealed that your academic work might be making you unhealthy in new and interesting ways.

Researchers in Mexico have recently identified academic stress as being a risk factor for dental caries (cavities) in students. The incidence of caries was shown to significantly increase in those students exhibiting moderate or high levels of stress. The reason for this appears to be associated with a change in the normal production of saliva. 

Certain hormones produced in stressful circumstances can inhibit saliva production, and it is this decrease in saliva flow that 'reduces the protective function afforded by saliva and, in consequence, increases the risk for dental decay...' (Majia-Rubalcava et al 2012: 1). This research is the first to correlate levels of academic stress with dental health in a statistically significant way and may be eventually useful in managing and minimising the mental and physical problems caused by stress.

I'm not sure how this research might help us practically though, stress is a bit hard to avoid with teaching commitments or a thesis to write - but perhaps it's something to keep in mind the next time we're tempted to pull an all nighter, eating nothing but chocolate bars and cappuccinos to keep us going?

Cynthia Mejía-Rubalcava, Jorge Alanís-Tavira, Liliana Argueta-Figueroa and Alejandra Legorreta-Reyna. 2012. Academic stress as a risk factor for dental caries. In the International Dental Journal DOI: 10.1111/j.1875-595X.2011.00103.x