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Concept: Dental caries


The restoration of dentine lost in deep caries lesions in teeth is a routine and common treatment that involves the use of inorganic cements based on calcium or silicon-based mineral aggregates. Such cements remain in the tooth and fail to degrade and thus normal mineral volume is never completely restored. Here we describe a novel, biological approach to dentine restoration that stimulates the natural formation of reparative dentine via the mobilisation of resident stem cells in the tooth pulp. Biodegradable, clinically-approved collagen sponges are used to deliver low doses of small molecule glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) antagonists that promote the natural processes of reparative dentine formation to completely restore dentine. Since the carrier sponge is degraded over time, dentine replaces the degraded sponge leading to a complete, effective natural repair. This simple, rapid natural tooth repair process could thus potentially provide a new approach to clinical tooth restoration.

Concepts: Enzyme, Animal, Teeth, Tooth, Dental caries, Portland cement, GSK-3, GSK3B


Evidence of prehistoric dentistry has been limited to a few cases, the most ancient dating back to the Neolithic. Here we report a 6500-year-old human mandible from Slovenia whose left canine crown bears the traces of a filling with beeswax. The use of different analytical techniques, including synchrotron radiation computed micro-tomography (micro-CT), Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating, Infrared (IR) Spectroscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), has shown that the exposed area of dentine resulting from occlusal wear and the upper part of a vertical crack affecting enamel and dentin tissues were filled with beeswax shortly before or after the individual’s death. If the filling was done when the person was still alive, the intervention was likely aimed to relieve tooth sensitivity derived from either exposed dentine and/or the pain resulting from chewing on a cracked tooth: this would provide the earliest known direct evidence of therapeutic-palliative dental filling.

Concepts: Electron, Spectroscopy, Mass spectrometry, Teeth, Dental caries, Scanning electron microscope, Tooth enamel, Dentin


In 1966, the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) began planning a targeted research program to identify interventions for widespread application to eradicate dental caries (tooth decay) within a decade. In 1971, the NIDR launched the National Caries Program (NCP). The objective of this paper is to explore the sugar industry’s interaction with the NIDR to alter the research priorities of the NIDR NCP.

Concepts: Lactic acid, Teeth, Dental caries, Tooth enamel, Sucrose, Oral hygiene, Dental restoration, Dental drill


BACKGROUND: Recent studies reported on the very complex morphology of the pulp system in equine cheek teeth. The continuous production of secondary dentine leads to distinct age-related changes of the endodontic cavity. Detailed anatomical knowledge of the dental cavities in all ages is required to explain the aetiopathology of typical equine endodontic diseases. Furthermore, data on mandibular and maxillary pulp systems is in high demand to provide a basis for the development of endodontic therapies. However, until now examination of the pulp cavity has been based on either sectioned teeth or clinical computed tomography. More precise results were expected by using micro-computed tomography with a resolution of about 0.1 mm and three-dimensional reconstructions based on previous greyscale analyses and histological verification. The aim of the present study was to describe the physiological configurations of the pulp system within a wide spectrum of tooth ages. RESULTS: Maxillary teeth: All morphological constituents of the endodontic cavity were present in teeth between 4 and 16 years: Triadan 06s displayed six pulp horns and five root canals, Triadan 07-10s five pulp horns and four root canals and Triadan 11s seven pulp horns and four to six root canals. A common pulp chamber was most frequent in teeth <=5 years, but was found even in a tooth of 9 years. A large variety of pulp configurations was observed within 2.5 and 16 years post eruption, but most commonly a separation into mesial and distal pulp compartments was seen. Maxillary cheek teeth showed up to four separate pulp compartments but the frequency of two, three and four pulp compartments was not related to tooth age (P > 0.05). In Triadan 06s, pulp horn 6 was always connected to pulp horns 1 and 3 and root canal I. In Triadan 11s, pulp horns 7 and 8 were present in variable constitutions. Mandibular teeth: A common pulp chamber was present in teeth up to 15 years, but most commonly seen in teeth <=5 years. A segmented pulp system was found in 72% of the investigated teeth. Segmentation into separate mesial and distal pulp compartments was most commonly present. Pulp horn 4 coalesced either with the mesial pulp horns 1 and 3 or with the distal pulp horns 2 and 5. CONCLUSIONS: Details of the pulpar anatomy of equine cheek teeth are provided, supporting the continuous advancement in endodontic therapy. Numerous individual configurations of the pulp system were obtained in maxillary cheek teeth, but much less variability was seen in mandibular cheek teeth.

Concepts: Teeth, Tooth, Dental caries, Root canal, Endodontic therapy, Endodontics, Dentin, Animal anatomy


BACKGROUND: Dental caries among young children are a global problem. Scant attention is paid towards primary teeth, leading to high prevalence of dental caries. There are only few studies done in Sri Lanka, addressing oral hygiene among preschool children. Scientific evidence is in need to persuade authorities to establish a programme promoting oral hygiene among preschool children. METHODS: A descriptive cross sectional study was conducted in Ragama Medical officer of Health area. Consecutive children between 2 – 5 years of age, attending child welfare clinics were recruited for the study. Practices related to dental hygiene and socio-economic characteristics were obtained using an interviewer administered questionnaire. Mouth was examined for evidence of dental caries. Data collection and examination were done by two doctors who were trained for this purpose. The data were analysed using SSPS version 16. RESULTS: Total of 410 children were included. None had a routine visits to a dentist. Practices related to tooth brushing were satisfactory. Prevalence of dental caries gradually increased with age to reach 68.8% by 5 years. Mean total decayed-extracted-filled (deft) score for the whole sample was 1.41 and Significant caries index (SIC) was 4.09. Decayed tooth were the main contributor for the deft score and Care index was only 1.55. Girls had a significantly higher prevalence of caries than boys. CONCLUSIONS: Dental care provided for Sri Lankan preschool children appears to be unsatisfactory as prevalence of dental caries among this cohort of preschool children was very high. There is an urgent need to improve dental care facilities for Sri Lankan preschool children.

Concepts: Teeth, Dental caries, Sri Lanka, Dental plaque, Oral hygiene, Dental floss, Halitosis, Toothbrush


Protein drugs (PD) are minimally utilized in dental medicine due to high cost and invasive surgical delivery. There is limited clinical advancement in disrupting virulent oral biofilms, despite their high prevalence in causing dental caries. Poor efficacy of antimicrobials following topical treatments or to penetrate and disrupt formed biofilms is a major challenge. We report an exciting low-cost approach using plant-made antimicrobial peptides (PMAMPs) retrocyclin or protegrin with complex secondary structures (cyclic/hairpin) for topical use to control biofilms. The PMAMPs rapidly killed the pathogen Streptococcus mutans and impaired biofilm formation following a single topical application of tooth-mimetic surface. Furthermore, we developed a synergistic approach using PMAMPs combined with matrix-degrading enzymes to facilitate their access into biofilms and kill the embedded bacteria. In addition, we identified a novel role for PMAMPs in delivering drugs to periodontal and gingival cells, 13-48 folds more efficiently than any other tested cell penetrating peptides. Therefore, PDs fused with protegrin expressed in plant cells could potentially play a dual role in delivering therapeutic proteins to gum tissues while killing pathogenic bacteria when delivered as topical oral formulations or in chewing gums. Recent FDA approval of plant-produced PDs augurs well for clinical advancement of this novel concept.

Concepts: Protein, Bacteria, Microbiology, Biofilm, Dental caries, Dental plaque, Oral hygiene, Streptococcus mutans


Prehistoric dental treatments were extremely rare, and the few documented cases are known from the Neolithic, when the adoption of early farming culture caused an increase of carious lesions. Here we report the earliest evidence of dental caries intervention on a Late Upper Palaeolithic modern human specimen (Villabruna) from a burial in Northern Italy. Using Scanning Electron Microscopy we show the presence of striations deriving from the manipulation of a large occlusal carious cavity of the lower right third molar. The striations have a “V”-shaped transverse section and several parallel micro-scratches at their base, as typically displayed by cutmarks on teeth. Based on in vitro experimental replication and a complete functional reconstruction of the Villabruna dental arches, we confirm that the identified striations and the associated extensive enamel chipping on the mesial wall of the cavity were produced ante-mortem by pointed flint tools during scratching and levering activities. The Villabruna specimen is therefore the oldest known evidence of dental caries intervention, suggesting at least some knowledge of disease treatment well before the Neolithic. This study suggests that primitive forms of carious treatment in human evolution entail an adaptation of the well-known toothpicking for levering and scratching rather than drilling practices.

Concepts: Human, Teeth, Dental caries, Scanning electron microscope, Tooth enamel, Paleolithic, Stone Age, Prehistory


Poor lifestyle behaviors are leading causes of preventable diseases globally. Added sugars contribute to a diet that is energy dense but nutrient poor and increase risk of developing obesity, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity-related cancers, and dental caries.

Concepts: Cancer, Disease, Genetic disorder, Nutrition, Obesity, Stroke, Dental caries, Sucrose


Accessing information on plant consumption before the adoption of agriculture is challenging. However, there is growing evidence for use of locally available wild plants from an increasing number of pre-agrarian sites, suggesting broad ecological knowledge. The extraction of chemical compounds and microfossils from dental calculus removed from ancient teeth offers an entirely new perspective on dietary reconstruction, as it provides empirical results on material that is already in the mouth. Here we present a suite of results from the multi-period Central Sudanese site of Al Khiday. We demonstrate the ingestion in both pre-agricultural and agricultural periods of Cyperus rotundus tubers. This plant is a good source of carbohydrates and has many useful medicinal and aromatic qualities, though today it is considered to be the world’s most costly weed. Its ability to inhibit Streptococcus mutans may have contributed to the unexpectedly low level of caries found in the agricultural population. Other evidence extracted from the dental calculus includes smoke inhalation, dry (roasting) and wet (heating in water) cooking, a second plant possibly from the Triticaceae tribe and plant fibres suggestive of raw material preparation through chewing.

Concepts: Food, Starch, Chemical compound, Dental caries, Dental plaque, Cyperus rotundus, Dentistry, Streptococcus mutans


Dental biofilms (known as plaque) are notoriously difficult to remove or treat because the bacteria can be enmeshed in a protective extracellular matrix. It can also create highly acidic microenvironments that cause acid-dissolution of enamel-apatite on teeth, leading to the onset of dental caries. Current antimicrobial agents are incapable of disrupting the matrix and thereby fail to efficiently kill the microbes within plaque-biofilms. Here, we report a novel strategy to control plaque-biofilms using catalytic nanoparticles (CAT-NP) with peroxidase-like activity that trigger extracellular matrix degradation and cause bacterial death within acidic niches of caries-causing biofilm. CAT-NP containing biocompatible Fe3O4 were developed to catalyze H2O2 to generate free-radicals in situ that simultaneously degrade the biofilm matrix and rapidly kill the embedded bacteria with exceptional efficacy (>5-log reduction of cell-viability). Moreover, it displays an additional property of reducing apatite demineralization in acidic conditions. Using 1-min topical daily treatments akin to a clinical situation, we demonstrate that CAT-NP in combination with H2O2 effectively suppress the onset and severity of dental caries while sparing normal tissues in vivo. Our results reveal the potential to exploit nanocatalysts with enzyme-like activity as a potent alternative approach for treatment of a prevalent biofilm-associated oral disease.

Concepts: Archaea, Bacteria, Microbiology, Biofilm, Lactic acid, Dental caries, Dental plaque, Streptococcus mutans