NIDCR News 2022

Caught on camera: bacterial-fungal clusters “walking” on tooth-like surfaces to rapidly form dental plaque. The findings could provide insights into interventions for tooth decay.
Instead of causing chronic pain, inflammation at the acute stage appears to help thwart it. The NIDCR-supported study suggests suppressing inflammation may be counterproductive for relieving low back and jaw pain in the long run.
Scientists identified the neural mechanisms through which sound blunts pain in mice. The findings could inform development of safer methods to treat pain.
By imaging twinkling neurons that light up in response to pain, NIDCR researchers found that blocking the Cdk5 protein dampens pain signaling in mice. The findings could help scientists find safer, non-opioid pain relief options.
Certain gut bacteria trigger an immune response that prompts loss of tooth-supporting bone. The findings point to a role for gut microbes in oral health and could inform treatment approaches for gum disease-associated bone loss.
Expanding eligibility for public coverage of dental care was linked to partial reductions in racial and ethnic disparities in use of dental services, suggesting that insurance coverage is one of multiple factors that could improve access to care.
From a tooth-on-a-chip to a salivary gland chip and more, scientists are developing microchips that mimic parts of our mouths. These NIDCR-supported studies are peering into the inner workings of the oral cavity to develop better dental materials and new therapies.
Equalizing oral health and access to care will require research and policy initiatives that make oral health care more affordable, accessible, and responsive to communities, write NIDCR Director Rena N. D’Souza, Science Advisor to the President and former National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins, and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, in a perspective published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Recent studies by NIDCR immunologists and neuroscientists indicate that not all itch is created equal, and that treatments tailored to specific kinds of itch may offer more effective relief than a one-size-fits-all approach.
NIDCR researchers and colleagues found that a tooth-hardening protein prevents bone loss in mice, which could lead to potential treatments for conditions marked by bone loss, including severe gum disease and osteoporosis.

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