Belfast scientists say aspirin could reverse tooth decay

Aspirin has long been prized for its painkilling properties, while low-dose aspirin is a popular systemic cardiovascular treatment, but new research shows that it could also reverse tooth decay.

According to a BBC report, the effects of tooth decay could potentially be reversed by the use of aspirin and lead to fewer fillings being needed in the future, researchers in Belfast have said. Tooth decay, the most common dental disease, leads to the inflammation of the tooth nerve, causing toothache.

Initial research at Queen’s University found aspirin stimulates stem cells in teeth, enhancing tooth regeneration. Current treatment for tooth decay involves fillings, which may need to be replaced many times during the lifetime of the tooth.

The British Dental Association reported in 2016 that 72% of 15-year-olds in Northern Ireland have dental decay. That figure compared to 44% in England and 63% in Wales.

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Teeth naturally have limited regenerative abilities. They can produce a thin band of dentine, the layer just below the enamel, if the inner dental pulp becomes exposed, but this cannot repair a large cavity.

The research findings, to be presented later this week at the British Society for Oral and Dental Research annual conference, show that aspirin can enhance the function of those stem cells, thus helping self-repair by regenerating lost tooth structure.

The researchers collated large amounts of previous research data to identify aspirin as a compound that can induce the gene signature needed to generate new dentine.


OTCs in Action Episode 40: Experience smiling


OTCs are in Action in the UK to make people smile. J&J’s new Listerine Smile Detector mobile app uses a smartphone camera to detect a smile up to several metres away and then notifies blind users with noises and vibrations. The Feel Every Smile short film about the app supports the launch of Listerine Advanced White mouthwash, but gives viewers so much more, when they hear vision impaired people express their own experience and understanding of what a smile means to them.

To see the film, click on the video below:

Film director, Lucy Walker, observed: “It is fascinating to ask blind people how they experience smiling, if not by sight. Smiling is a universal human expression employed by people who were born blind. Even if they can’t see a face, blind people are very aware of the ‘feeling’ that smiling gives them, and they are often able to pick up when someone is smiling by listening to the quality of their voice.”

But there are some situations in which vocal quality is not enough and in which blind people would love to be able to detect when someone is smiling at them. I believe we don’t hear enough from blind people about their experiences, and this was a fantastic opportunity to meet some brilliant blind people through the power of filmmaking.”

The Listerine Smile Detector mobile app was developed in partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and is available now for Apple iOS and Android phones.