Just the Tooth: Weird Stories from 2018

 

You know that old saying, truth is stranger than fiction? Well it's not always true, but in the case of these five tooth-related stories it sure is. If you like "news of the weird," check out these five oral health stories that prove sometimes fact really is stranger than fiction.

Something's Fishy ...

In January, a fisherman made headlines in Arizona for catching a pacu fish in Tucson’s Silverbell Lake. This was not a particularly extraordinary event - even though Silverbell Lake does not stock the lake with pacu fish, they are often dumped there by pet owners. But in the January catch, the fish itself certainly stood out. That’s because the pacu fish has teeth that resemble human teeth - and it caught the fisherman by surprise.

Photos of the pacu fish soon made their way to the media, starting a media campaign by local fish and game representatives begging pet owners to stop dumping invasive species like the pacu into local waterways. A cousin of the piranha, the pacu is a native of South America. People like them as pets because they look like piranhas, but many owners are unprepared to deal with a full-grown pacu, which can reach up to 2 feet in length!

Zombie Teeth?

Scientists may have found a way to bring dead teeth back to life. Normally cleaned out and filled with a material called gutta percha via a root canal, dead teeth are just that: dead. But a new biomaterial in the development stage could help regenerate the removed dental pulp and keep the tooth alive. The material is a peptide hydrogel encourages blood vessel growth and is now being tested out on dogs who have undergone root canal procedures. If it works on dogs, hopefully human teeth will be next.

The Good Kind of Regrowth

Anyone who colors their hair knows that regrowth is not good. Except in the case of teeth, that is. Of course, there isn’t really a way to regrow human teeth yet, but there could be soon thanks to an experimental drug called Tideglusib that stimulates stem cells and regrows dentin. Another promising lead toward regrowing teeth is a project being conducted at the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, New York, that is attempting to use lasers to regrow teeth.

Hidden Treasure?

A construction site in Georgia made headlines this fall when construction workers discovered thousands of human teeth while tearing down a wall in an old building. Before you panic, the building was once home to an old dental clinic, but still. Why anyone would save teeth in the wall is anyone’s guess, but supposedly a similarly grizzly discovery was made in another dentist’s office in Georgia several years prior.

Saving Lives With Slobber?

A team of Rutgers University scientists have discovered that the saliva from a Siberian brown bear can be used to detect whether an antibiotic will be effective in fighting infection in humans. That’s because the bear has not been exposed to many of the viruses and bacteria that humans and other mammals that live closer to humans have been exposed to. Not quite human oral health, but it's pretty cool to see how another animal’s oral health can save human lives!

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