Isolating immune cells to study how they ward off oral diseases

Case Western Reserve University dental researchers have found a less invasive way to extract single rare immune cells from the mouth to study how the mouth’s natural defenses ward off infection and inflammation.

By isolating some specialized immune cells (white blood cells known as “leukocytes”) to study how they fight diseases in the mouth – or reject foreign tissues, such as in failed organ transplants – researchers hope to learn more about treating and preventing such health issues as oral cancers, cardiovascular disease, AIDS and other infectious diseases.

To this point, researchers have had to rely on studying and growing immune cells from blood. Studying tissue immune cells allows researchers to learn how they function at the site of infection.

The role of adaptive immune cells in the stomach and intestines is more widely known, yet the role of similar cells in the mouth is unclear. There are no reliable methods to extract immune cells from mouth, which are more accessible and easier to extract than harder-to-reach tissues in the stomach and intestines.

But, until now, immune cells removed from the mouth couldn’t be isolated with enough viability or grown to study their activities, Pushpa Pandiyan, assistant professor of biological sciences at the dental school, explained.

The new method, developed by Pandiyan, the study’s lead author, is described in Biological Procedures article, “Isolation of T cells from mouse oral tissues.”

Pandiyan, who studies oral diseases associated with HIV, found no reliable method existed to isolate and keep a single cell from the tongue, gums and palate alive long enough to study.

Pandiyan and her team developed a way to do so successfully. The researchers reported that more than 94 percent of the isolated cells lived long enough to study.

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Smokers’ taste buds ‘do not allow them to taste bitterness of coffee’

Though conventional pairing has cigarettes and coffee going together, researchers have found that the toxic chemicals in tobacco may hamper taste bud regeneration, resulting in smokers not being able to adequately taste the bitterness of their regular cup of joe.

The researchers, led by Nelly Jacob of the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital APHP in France, published results of their study in the journal Chemosensory Perception.

They note that tobacco’s chemicals are already known to cause a loss of taste in smokers, as well as structural changes to the fungiform papillae of the tongue – where taste buds are found.

What has been unknown is to what extent smokers’ taste range is affected, whether it returns to normal uponquitting smoking and if so, how long that takes.

Taste buds are largely responsible for conveying sweet, sour, bitter, salty and metallic sensations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the responsibilities of the taste system include:

  • Triggering digestive systems that change secretions of saliva, stomach acid and pancreatic juices
  • Enhancing feelings of pleasure and satiety when eating
  • Determining quality of foods and determining “good” tasting foods from “bad” ones, which could have potential toxins.

To further investigate the changes in taste buds caused by smoking, Jacob and colleagues tested the ability of 451 study participants to recognize and rate intensity of the four basic tastes – sweet, sour, bitter and salty.

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New guidelines from the American Association of Endodontists to save traumatized teeth

The best course of action to treat traumatic dental injuries is to follow American Association of Endodontists guidlines. The Recommended Guidelines of the AAE for the Treatment of Traumatic Dental Injuries features treatment protocols for a variety of traumatic dental injuries including fracture, luxation, subluxation, concussion and avulsion.

In 2004 AAE develped these Guidelines based on the International Association of Dental Trauma Guidelines for the Management of Traumatic Dental Injuries

Dr. Linda G. Levin, chair of the AAE special committee to revise the trauma guidelines said:

The revised AAE Guidelines provide important support for dental and medical professionals who encounter dental trauma

Notable changes in the revised Guidelines include:

  • Recommendations for utilization of 3-D imaging for the detection and monitoring of dental injuries;
  • Revised timelines for the treatment or monitoring of various injuries; and
  • The utilization of the latest materials for vital pulp therapy in the trauma patient.

The Guidelines, and other dental trauma resources, are available (for free) from the AAE website at

Tips for a New Graduate

If  you are a new dental graduate going  to get  your licence to practice  ,there are some tips you need to know:

  • Diagnosis is everything. You can’t treat until you have a proper diagnosis. Diagnosis is also dynamic and can change.
  • You are going to be slow at first. Schedule enough time for the work.
  • Don’t do stuff you suck at, refer it out. Create some relationships with specialists who will work with you when issues arise.
  • If you suck at something, consider learning how to not suck at it and take on a couple of easy cases (having a mentor is useful in case issues arise).
  • No matter how wonderful you are, some patients are not going to like you and prefer your  co-worker. Don’t take it personally.

AAE calls on dental partners to champion root canal safety

The effectiveness of root canal treatment is well-established in dentistry; however, misinformation continues to circulate on the Internet that may cause patients to question the safety of endodontics. During Root Canal Awareness Week, March 30 – April 5, the American Association of Endodontists is asking everyone in the dental industry to be an advocate for good dental health and share information about root canal safety.

A new web page,, provides endodontists, general dentists, dental media, industry partners, and patients with authoritative and reliable information about the safety of endodontic treatment, while debunking myths that root canals cause cancer or other health problems.

ADDITIONAL READING | Fewer Americans fear root canals, more want to keep their natural teeth

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