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What Teeth May Come.

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Implants sometimes don't work because the artificial materials don't bond with the bone, and there can be severe problems with inflammation or the body may even reject the foreign material, MacDougall says. Using cells from a person's body to grow a new tooth should overcome these problems.

Although all the cells in your body have the same genes, different genes are active in different cells that allows, say, a liver cell to function differently from a skin cell. MacDougall and her colleagues are tracking down the subset of genes that function only when teeth are forming. Once the researchers have this information, she believes that they can use the genes to correct orthodontic diseases.

"We think we can do this by injecting these specific genes into the developing teeth," MacDougall explains. "We can treat every individual tooth as an individual organ. This genetic information would not make sense to cells in other parts of the body since these are specific to teeth."

The information also would allow scientists to develop genetic screening tests to determine who is at greatest risk for tooth decay and periodontal disease. Then doctors could use the gene therapy to prevent or treat these disorders, MacDougall theorizes.

MacDougall -- who began this line of research 15 years ago -- believes that tooth regeneration and gene therapy will be available for people of all ages. She says it will be especially important for children who receive trauma to the mouth, and aging baby boomers and their children.

"The U.S. population is graying and they want to keep their teeth longer; they don't want to wear dentures," MacDougall says.

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How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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