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What Anglo Saxon Teeth Can Tell Us About Modern Health

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Evidence from the teeth of Anglo Saxon children could help identify modern children most at risk from conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Researchers from the University of Bradford found that analysis of milk teeth of children’s skeletons from a 10th Century site in Northamptonshire, England, gave a more reliable indicator of the effects of diet and health than bone.

The study, published today, 6 September 2018, in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, shows that by analysing dentine from the milk teeth of the Anglo Saxon children, a picture emerges of the development of these children from the third trimester of pregnancy onwards, and is a proxy indicator of the health of the mothers. This is the first time that secure in utero data has been measured.

The skeletons analysed at the University of Bradford come from a settlement at Raunds Furnells and are from a group known to have been under nourished. The effect of this under nourishment, or stress, is to limit the growth of bones. This can limit the evidence available from analysis of bones alone, such as age.

Researchers were also able to look at children of different ages to see whether those who survived the first 1,000 days from conception, during which factors such as height are set, had different biomarkers for stress than those who died during this high-risk period.

Teeth, unlike bone, continue to grow under such stress and, unlike bone, record high nitrogen values. This evidence gives a clearer picture of what is happening to the child from before birth. The teeth are, in effect, acting as an archive of diet and health of both the child and mother.

Dr Julia Beaumont, of the University of Bradford’s School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences, said: “This is the first time that we have been able to measure with confidence the in utero nitrogen values of dentine. We find that when bone and teeth form at the same time, bone doesn’t record high nitrogen values that occur during stress. Our hypothesis is that bone isn’t growing but teeth are. So archaeology can’t rely on the evidence from bones alone because bone is not forming and recording during high stress and we can’t be sure, for example, of the age of a skeleton. Teeth are more reliable as they continue to grow even when a child is starving.”

As well as the archaeological significance of this method of analysis, Dr Beaumont believes it has a direct application to modern medicine.

She said:

“There is a growing consensus that factors such as low birthweight have a significant impact on our likelihood of developing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity and that the first 1,000 days from conception onwards set our ‘template’. By analysing the milk teeth of modern children in the same way as the Anglo Saxon skeletons, we can measure the same values and see the risk factors they are likely to face in later life, enabling measures to be taken to mitigate such risks.”

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10 Wimbledon Moments That Sum Up Clinics

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1. When you haven’t eaten all day but snack between patients

2. When you finally successfully obturate that difficult canal

3. When your nurse forgets to put on the patient’s goggles

4. When your handpiece stops working

5. When you find out there are no more emergencies left to do

6. When you get let out of clinics early

7. When someone asks how you did that amazing restoration

8. Fourth year students when they find an endo patient

9. When you’ve been trapped in clinics all day and finally go outdoors

10. When you’re so tired you just can’t hack it anymore

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12 Moments From Power To Sum Up Your Day On Clinics

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1. When your Tutor/Trainer is your BFF

2. Fighting off caries like 

3. Trying to explain your treatment plan like 

4. Waiting for tutorials to finish like… 

5. When your Case Presentation gets a distinction 

6. When you check if the tooth is tender to percussion 

7. When you go over your UDA target and NHS be like… 

8. When you get a complaint but you’ve got verbal and written consent but then find out… 

9. When you’re 0.5mm short of the apex and your trainer is an endodontist 

10. Bleeding gums, crown fractures and gross caries; Can I still have my teeth whitened? 

11. When you’re on your way own but remember something stupid from clinic 

12. When you try to save a tooth from XLA so you re-RCT and the radiolucency is still there months later… 

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Acupuncture Possible Treatment For Dental Anxiety

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Researchers have found evidence that acupuncture could help people who experience dental anxiety.

Dental anxiety affects up to an estimated 30% of the adult population in countries world-wide. Patients can experience nausea, difficulty breathing and dizziness at the thought of going to the dentist, during an examination, and following treatment.

Reasons behind dental anxiety can be various, such as fear of pain, needles or anaesthetic side effects, as well as embarrassment or feeling a loss of control.

In a review of six trials with 800 patients, researchers used a points scale to measure anxiety and studies show that anxiety reduced by eight points when dental patients were given acupuncture as a treatment. This level of reduction is considered to be clinically relevant, which means that acupuncture could be a possibility for tackling dental anxiety.

Previous clinical trials have involved acupuncture for treatment on a range of conditions, including lower back pain, depression, and irritable bowel syndrome. There is, however, limited research detailing its impact on specific cases of anxiety.

More than 120 trials across England, China, Spain, Portugal and Germany were identified as having investigated the effects of acupuncture on patients with dental anxiety, and six trials were eligible for review, with two demonstrating high quality methods.

Professor of Acupuncture, Hugh MacPherson, at the University of York’s Department of Health Sciences, said:

“There is increasing scientific interest in the effectiveness of acupuncture either as a standalone treatment or as an accompanying treatment to more traditional medications.

“We have recently shown, for example, that acupuncture treatment can boost the effectiveness of standard medical care in chronic pain and depression.

“Chronic pain is often a symptom of a long-term condition, so to further our understanding of the various uses of acupuncture we wanted to see what it could achieve for conditions that occur suddenly, rapidly and as a reaction to particular experiences.”

Studies that compared anxiety levels between patients that received acupuncture and those that did not, showed a significant difference in anxiety scores during dental treatment. A clinically relevant reduction in anxiety was found when acupuncture was compared with not receiving acupuncture.

No conclusions could be drawn, however, between patients that received acupuncture as an intervention and those that received placebo treatment, suggesting that larger scale controlled trials are needed to increase the robustness of the findings.

Professor MacPherson said:

“These are interesting findings, but we need more trials that measure the impact of acupuncture on anxiety before going to the dentist, during treatment and after treatment.

“If acupuncture is to be integrated into dental practices, or for use in other cases of extreme anxiety, then there needs to be more high quality research that demonstrates that it can have a lasting impact on the patient. Early indications look positive, but there is still more work to be done.”

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