“You can’t learn less.”
You are invited to take part in the Dental Project: Malawi
In association with Dentaid, a group of passionate dental professionals are going to Malawi in July 2013 to install dental equipment, provide dental care, and deliver workshops to the communities.
You can help us in THREE ways:
1. To deliver the best possible care we need some dental consumables and materials. Can you donate any?
To see what we need click here:
To see what we already have, click here:
2. Sponsor our shirts and kit bags with your logo: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Donate a toothbrush to Malawi by simply ‘liking’ our Facebook page
(The Greatest Breakthrough Since Lunchtime a reference to Colin Douglas’s book)
A new gel that dissolves tooth decay could provide an alternative to the dentist’s drill.
The gel, made from a compound found in the fruit and leaves of the papaya tree, works within a minute to soften up the decay.
This can then be scraped away and replaced with a standard filling. There is no need for a local anaesthetic. The gel is being tested in a clinical trial in Brazil on 30 patients.
Tooth decay occurs when mouth acid dissolves the outer layer of teeth. The mouth is full of bacteria that combine with food particles and saliva to form the sticky film known as plaque that builds on teeth.
Bacteria in the plaque produces acid, which gradually destroys the tooth surface. Left untreated, this can expose nerves in the tooth and cause toothache.
According to the NHS, tooth decay is one of the most widespread health problems in Britain. Some 31 per cent of adults have decaying teeth, and one in three children aged 12 show visible signs of tooth decay.
Early stage decay can be treated with fluoride varnish that may prevent further damage.
But if the enamel has worn away and a cavity formed, decay must be removed and replaced with a filling.
Currently, decay is cleared away using a dentist’s drill, which is not only unpleasant for the patient, but may also damage surrounding healthy tissue.
The new gel is based on papain, a compound that comes from the outer surface of the leaves and fruits of the green papaya, which grows in tropical regions such as Brazil and Hawaii.
Papain breaks down proteins. It is commonly used in laboratories to analyse biological samples.
It has also been used to dress and clean wounds, burns and bedsores because it can break down decaying tissue while leaving healthy tissue untouched.
Early studies at Nove de Julho University in Brazil showed it was highly effective in 13 out of 14 teeth treated.
The team is testing the papain gel on 20 patients, comparing it to a placebo gel.
They hope to release it onto the market in the next three years if the human trials prove successful.
Commenting on the research, Hugh Devlin, professor of restorative dentistry at the University of Manchester, says: ‘This is an interesting material, and may be useful in treating young children.
‘However, we still need more research before this type of gel can be adopted into mainstream dentistry.
‘Generally, we need more spending on research into restorative dentistry to produce similar developments in this country.’
Meanwhile, scientists have revealed how gum disease can stubbornly persist for months and even years.
The team from the University of Pennsylvania, writing in the Journal of Immunology, revealed that the bacteria responsible for gum disease — called Porphyromonas gingivalis — hijack the natural defences of the gum cells and prevent them from sending alerts to the immune system to tell them that they are under attack.
The researchers identified proteins in the bacteria that block the alert response from being launched.
They have developed molecules to silence these proteins, allowing the distress signals to be sent.
In early-stage animal experiments, injections of these silencer proteins into the gums allowed the immune system to clear the infection.
Researchers hope to develop this solution into a dental treatment that can be used easily on humans.
BDA issues new dental public health warning
A Government commitment to improve the oral health of the youngest children could be jeopardised if the shortfall in the dental public health workforce is not addressed, the British Dental Association (BDA) has warned.
Despite previous assurances that the many gaps in the Consultant in Dental Public Health (CDPH) workforce will be addressed, recruitment for a number of posts has yet to take place and it is not clear that the funding for it to commence is available.
The BDA has now written to Public Health England, the body responsible for recruiting for the vacant posts in the post-April 2013 NHS, urging action and reassurance that the funding for the posts remains available and they will be advertised imminently. Without a full CDPH workforce oversight and innovation in tackling wide-scale oral health problems will be lost, the BDA fears.
Dr Christopher Allen, the Chair of the BDA’s Dental Public Health Committee, said:
“There is a longstanding shortage of Consultants in Dental Public Health. Pre-April, approximately one-third of primary care trusts did not have access to CDPH advice.
“The BDA has long campaigned for this to be addressed, and had been assured that further CDPHs would be recruited. The new commitment to improving the oral health of young children in the Public Health Outcomes Framework appeared further to signal the priority that was to be given to resolving the issue.
“However, the fact that recruitments are yet to take place, despite the advent of the new NHS architecture, raises anxieties. Public Health England must demonstrate its commitment to improving the oral health of the nation’s youngest patients and move quickly to advertise these crucial posts.”
Consultants in Dental Public Health are responsible for the development of widely heralded schemes such as Manchester Smiles that are instrumental in improving oral health on a community-wide basis.
“Being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone – other than oneself – be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter.
The more one forgets himself – by giving himself to a cause or to another person to love – the more human he is.”