Silk and Salivary Glands

Friday, August 14th, 2015, 4:00 pm

Millions of Americans suffer from dry mouth caused by poor saliva flow. This uncomfortable condition can lead to serious health problems but there is currently no cure. So how are silk and salivary glands connected?

A new study has found that it may be possible to generate new salivary glands out of stem cells using silk fibers as a framework. Salivary glands have very little capacity to renew themselves, which leaves a need for cell based therapies to restore gland function. A team from the University of Texas at San Antonio described how they used silk fibers to provide salivary gland stem cells with a 3 dimensional scaffolding on which to grow. Dr. Chih-Ko Yeh stated that the achievement was significant because “salivary gland stem cells are some of the most difficult cells to grow in culture and retain their function.” The cells grown had many of the same characteristics as our natural salivary glands.

Of course it will be years before this research yields a treatment – if it ever does. The good news is that research into finding a solution for xerostomia (dry mouth) continues.

Why do people develop dry mouth? There are a number of causes including medication, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, radiation treatment for head and neck cancers and just getting older. Dry mouth is a problem for patients for the following reasons:

  • It is uncomfortable
  • Dry mouth leads to an increased risk for gum disease
  • Patients are more likely to develop tooth decay
  • Mouth infections such as thrush are common
  • Makes it more difficult to wear dentures if needed

If you experience dry mouth it is important to visit your dentist regularly. You can make yourself more comfortable by sucking on sugar free candy, using artificial saliva substitutes and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. You can protect your teeth by using a fluoride toothpaste and rinse. Try to breath through your nose, not your mouth and use a humidifier in the bedroom at night.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, Georgia today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your visit to talk about dry mouth and your options for maintaining a healthy smile.

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Category: cavities, Decay, Dental check ups

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