Bulletin of Dental Education

Dentistry in the News - February 2012

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MU Researchers to Test Pain-Free Tooth Fillings 

University of Missouri (UM) researchers have developed a pain-free way to fill tooth cavities, technology that could be on the market in two years.

The so-called “plasma brush” uses chemical reactions to disinfect and clean out cavities, then uses fluorescent light and electrodes to form a “cool flame” that delivers and bonds dental sealer. The research involves professors from UM’s College of Engineering, University of Missouri - Kansas City’s School of Dentistry and the University of Tennessee-Memphis.

Human clinical trials are expected to begin early next year in Memphis. The device will need approval from the Food and Drug Administration, but the team hopes the plasma brush will be available to dentists in late 2013.

Because the device would deliver stronger fillings that would last longer, using the plasma brush is expected to reduce the amount Americans spend each year to replace fillings. A tooth can support two or three restorations before it must be pulled but studies show fillings are 60% stronger with the plasma brush.

Study Says Music Can Ease Pain 

Losing oneself in music really may help take the sting out of a root canal or other painful medical procedure, especially if the patient is anxious.

In a new study, 143 people listened to music while they received a painful shock in their fingertip. Participants were asked to follow the melodies, and identify unusual tones in an effort to take their mind off the pain. The task seemed to be effective: participants’ pain decreased as they became more and more absorbed in the tunes. Those who were the most anxious reaped the most pain-relieving benefits when they became engaged in the music.

“Our results suggest that engaging activities like music listening may be most effective for reducing pain in high-anxiety persons who can easily become absorbed in activities,” concludes researchers led by David H. Bradshaw, Ph.D., from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. The study did not look at different types of music and whether soothing music worked best. Dr. Bradshaw indicated the type of music isn’t as important as how well it holds the patient’s interest.

The findings appear in The Journal of Pain.

Common Oral Bacteria Opens the Door to Allow Other Invaders In 

A common oral bacterium, Fusobacterium nucleatum, acts like a key to open a door in human blood vessels. According to dental researchers at Case Western Reserve University, this leads the way for Fusobacterium and other bacteria like Escherichia coli to invade the body through the blood.

Dr. Yiping Han, Professor of Periodontics at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, made the discovery in her continued work with the Fusobacterium nucleatum bacterium, one of the most prevalent of the more than 700 bacteria in the mouth.

The microbiologist at the dental school has studied the oral bacteria over the past decade and was the first to find direct evidence that linked it to preterm labor and fetal death. But its presence is found in other infections and abscesses in the brain, lungs, liver, spleen, and joints.

New Toothpaste Derived From Cocoa Extract  

A team of researchers in Louisiana developed a new toothpaste that hits shelves across the country this week. The toothpaste—Theodent—contains no fluoride; instead, it includes a proprietary blend of cocoa extract and other minerals to strengthen and harden tooth enamel.

Developers say the toothpaste offers an alternative to consumers who worry about consuming fluoride. The toothpaste doesn't actually taste like chocolate; it is mint-flavored. But developers hope to expand the Theodent line to include dental floss, mouthwash, and a chocolate-flavored, sugar-free toothpaste for children.

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