A display model of a dental implant in California, May 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
It's only Wednesday, but it's already been an interesting week in the world of teeth.
Scientists in China are working on growing teeth from urine, a team at the National Taiwan University have created a wi-fi enabled tooth sensor that they hope will help people eat better or quit smoking, and researchers have identified a possible link between Alzheimer's and dental bacteria.
You May Need To Use Whitening Strips: Growing Teeth from Urine
A team of scientists in China has grown tooth-like structures from a very unlikely starting point: human urine.
They used the urine as a source of stem cells, which were then mixed with other cells from a mouse and implanted into the animals, the BBC reports.
After three weeks, the bundle of cells started looking like a tooth, and contained "dental pulp, dentin, enamel space and enamel organ," according to an article by the research team in Cell Regeneration Journal.
But getting to the point where we could grow new teeth out of urine? That's a long way off - and some other scientists say urine is a bad place to start.
"It is probably one of the worst sources, there are very few cells in the first place and the efficiency of turning them into stem cells is very low," said Professor Chris Mason, a stem cell scientist at University College London.
Mason also said there was a higher risk of contamination with urine than other stem cell sources.
The Wi-Fi Tooth Sensor That Spies On Your Bad Habits
Imagine having a device in your head at all times that watches what you're eating, drinking and saying, gathers all that information, and then forces you to confront it later.
No, we're not talking about your conscience: researchers at the National Taiwan University have created a wi-fi connected device that fits between a person's teeth and keeps tabs on what goes on in their mouth, New Scientist reports.
The sensor is apparently sensitive enough to detect the difference between eating, speaking, coughing, smoking, drinking, and breathing, and the data it collects can automatically be sent to a health professional.
That information can then be used to provide an accurate picture of a person's daily habits.
A prototype of the device has been tested and found 94 per cent accurate, but there are still some kinks to work out, like ensuring it's completely waterproof and adding an internal battery so you don't have to plug your mouth in everywhere you go.
A Link Between Alzheimer's And Dental Bacteria?
A study by a team of researchers from the U.S. and U.K. has found gum-disease bacteria in the brains of four people with Alzheimer's disease, PopSci reports.
The original goal of the study, which was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, wasn't to show whether the bacterium causes Alzheimer's. Researchers were just trying to find out whether it was possible for the bacteria (which is called Porphyromonas gingivalis) to appear in the brain.
In the process of testing, though, they noticed that the bacteria only showed up in the brains of people who also had Alzheimer's.
Four of the 10 samples of brain tissue from people with Alzheimer's showed signs of the bacterium, while the bug didn't show up in any of the brains from 10 people of a similar age who had not developed dementia.
This isn't the first time scientists have linked gum disease with Alzheimer's. One of the symptoms of the condition is inflammation of the brain, and some researchers believe it could be related to inflammation elsewhere in the body, including the gums.