Our teeth take thousands of bites per day, and understanding exactly what holds them in place and how is key to helping people live with their own teeth for longer.
Now new research published in the Journal of Dental Research has shed light on the science behind the formation of the periodontal ligament, which helps keep the tooth stable in the jawbone. This improved understanding will also help scientists work towards regenerating the tissues that support teeth.
The study, led by the Universities of Plymouth and Geneva, shows how a *signalling pathway called Notch, which is known to be activated in stem cells and cancer, is important for periodontal ligament development.*A signalling pathway describes how a group of molecules in a cell work together to control one or more cell functions, such as cell division or cell death. After the first molecule in a pathway receives a signal, it activates another molecule. This process is repeated until the last molecule is activated and the cell function is carried out.
“The periodontal ligament starts to properly hold the tooth in the jawbone when a tooth breaks out and becomes functional. Understanding the mechanisms of how periodontal ligaments develop and the molecules that assist the tissue becoming mature is really important for our understanding of tissue regeneration and repair. The next steps are for us to see if and how the molecules we have identified in this study can be translated into a human-only model and, in turn, how they are affected in both healthy and diseased conditions.”
“We believe that our findings are an important stepping stone to better dental treatments in situations involving the periodontal ligament, such as gum disease (periodontitis), tooth restoration by dental implants or orthodontic tooth movement.”