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Silk Worm the Key to Helping Those with Dry Mouth Disease

If you’ve never heard the term before, Sjögren’s Syndrome is a condition in which ulcers inside the mouth damage the tear ducts and salivary glands, leaving the patient with a constant dry mouth. Saliva is an important part of keeping your mouth from being overwhelmed with the bacteria that cause infection and tooth decay.

dentistry scienceAbout 1.2% of Americans are affected by Sjögren’s Syndrome, but most people are unfamiliar with the disease. It’s an autoimmune disease in which white blood cells attack moisture-producing glands such as the salivary glands. The condition can also cause problems with the kidneys, the digestive system, the central nervous system and other areas of the body. Saliva is an important aspect of our health. It helps with speaking, swallowing, rinsing the teeth, digesting food and preventing oral infections. Chronic bad breath, cavities, gum disease and other systemic infections can happen as a result of the body producing insufficient saliva.

According to a recent article in the San Antonio Express-News, researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center are testing a technology that helps regrow salivary glands in patients with using silk from silkworm cocoons and stem cells. While the results are still preliminary, tissue engineering of this kind could help millions of people with dry mouth due to Sjögren’s syndrome and chemotherapy treatments for head and neck cancer.

Regrowing salivary glands is a new concept in medicine. It has only been recently discovered that the small discs of silk produced by the silkworm can aid in the production of salivary glands. While thus far, the team has only been able to successfully replicate the process using rat salivary glands, taking the step to producing a solution for humans could happen within the next five years.

Advances in dentistry and medicine continue to change the way you’re treated for many conditions. If it’s been a while since you’ve been to the dentist, come see what’s new in our office. Make your appointment for a checkup today.

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