WTF Fun Fact 13565 – A Way To Regrow Teeth?

Many of us grapple with tooth loss after an injury or other dental issue – so wouldn’t it be nice if, instead of paying thousands of dollars for a porcelain replacement, scientists found a way to help us regrow teeth?

Well, we’re getting closer!

Researchers from the University of Plymouth have made groundbreaking progress, unveiling a gene that may hold the secret to tooth regeneration.

The Power of Stem Cells

Historically, stem cells have been the beacon of hope in understanding and treating many diseases. That’s because they hold unparalleled potential by being capable of transforming into almost any cell type the body might need. Whether it’s forming new blood cells or rejuvenating bone cells, stem cells are invaluable in helping us recover and regenerate.

It’s no wonder, then, that scientists often harvest stem cells from youthful sources like primary teeth or wisdom teeth. Simply put, younger cells teem with vitality, making them robust candidates for regenerative medicine.

Stem cell therapy has, over the years, provided relief to patients battling conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s and diabetes to multiple sclerosis.

However, only recently have scientists honed in on how stem cells can revolutionize dental health.

Revolutionary Findings to Help Regrow Teeth

Dr. Bing Hu of the Peninsula Dental School at the University of Plymouth and his global team of scientists have uncovered a game-changing revelation: the Dlk1 gene. This gene seems to be the catalyst for enhanced stem cell activation and tissue renewal.

Their journey began with the discovery of a previously unknown group of stem cells in mouse incisors.

Typically found in muscles and bones, these mesenchymal cells spring into action when exposed to the Dlk1 gene. The result? An increased production of dentin – a crucial component in teeth.

Even more impressive was Dlk1’s ability to regenerate tissues in mice with dental injuries.

Future Implications

Of course, with all major discoveries come the caveats. Dr. Hu emphasizes the importance of further studies to cement their initial findings. Yet, he remains optimistic about transitioning from animal models to human trials soon.

This research is a beacon of hope for those who have struggled financially to have lost teeth replaced. Imagine a future where dental procedures are not only more efficient but also more affordable. A future where losing a tooth doesn’t spell permanent loss, but a temporary inconvenience.

While the Plymouth team’s findings are revolutionary, they aren’t the first to tread this path. Back in 2021, a study from Japan revealed the potential of targeting genes to regrow teeth in animals. Their focus? The USAG-1 gene. Fast forward to today, and this Japanese team is setting the stage for a 2024 clinical trial, targeting tooth regeneration in humans.

If all goes well, by 2030, we might be ushering in a new era of dental care.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Humans Have a Third Set of Teeth. New Medicine May Help Them Grow” — Popular Mechanics and “Scientists Discover New Gene That Can Help Repair Teeth” — Today’s RDH

WTF Fun Fact 13040 – The Oldest Toothpaste

We tend to think of ancient people as having horrible tooth decay. In fact, it’s often referred to went talking about their shorter lifespans. But it turns out that toothpaste (and teeth cleaning generally) is an ancient concept. The oldest toothpaste comes from Egypt.

Ancient toothpaste

Dental hygiene has always been of relative importance. People who lived thousands of years ago may not have had twice-yearly dental cleanings, but they did have bristled toothbrushes and toothpaste.

According to Open Culture (cited below): “not only did ancient people use toothbrushes, but it is believed that ‘Egyptians… started using a paste to clean their teeth around 5000 BC,’ even before toothbrushes were invented.”

The world’s oldest toothpaste recipe

According to The Telegraph, in 2003, the oldest toothpaste formula (so far) was found at a Viennese museum. It dates from the 4th century AD. The Egyptian papyrus (which is written in Greek) “describes a ‘powder for white and perfect teeth’ that, when mixed with saliva, makes a ‘clean tooth paste.'”

It requires:
1 drachma of rock salt (about one-hundredth of an ounce)
2 drachmas of mint
1 drachma of dried iris flower
20 grains of pepper

The ingredients are to be crushed and mixed together.

Dental hygiene surprises

Rock salt, mint, and pepper are probably not a recipe for the most pleasant experience for your gums, but it would be refreshing.

Once we get into the middle ages, we start to see things like charms and amulets used for dental health – so at least ancient Egyptian toothpaste would remove some germs.

Dental health care is also described in Gilbertus Anglicus’ 13th-century Compendium of Medicine. It advises rubbing teeth with a cloth to remove “corrupt matter.”

It’s pretty clear that people have long understood the importance of dental hygiene for health.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Try the Oldest Known Recipe For Toothpaste: From Ancient Egypt, Circa the 4th Century BC” — Open Culture