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World's first tooth-on-a-chip may advance the field of dentistry

Date: 20.12.2019 

We're seeing an increasing number of organ-on-a-chip devices, in which small pieces of living biological tissue are used to replicate the functions of actual organs. Now, scientists have created the first-ever tooth-on-a-chip, which mimics a tooth with a cavity.

Kredit: OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff.For the most part, organ-on-a-chip devices incorporate a tissue sample from a given organ, which is placed within a small transparent slide. Microfluidic channels in that slide are then used to pass various chemicals – such as medications or toxins – through that sample. Based on how the tissue reacts, researchers are able to deduce how the full organ might be affected.

Developed at the Oregon Health and Science University, the tooth-on-a-chip works on the same principle.

It contains a small slice of dentin material taken from a molar, sandwiched between clear rubber slides. Channels etched into those slides allow introduced fluids to flow through that dentin. This replicates the manner in which a cavity in a tooth's protective enamel lets bacteria enter the inside of the tooth.

Utilizing a microscope, scientists are subsequently able to study how the sample reacts. The technology could ultimately be used to develop batter cavity-filling or cavity-prevention solutions, plus it could be utilized to optimize treatments for individual people – although the latter would require a bit of a sacrifice.




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