Researchers at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease have found correlation between a specific type of hair protein and dental cavities/decay.
Hair Proteins and Tooth Decay…. Huh?
It is a bizarre finding, almost as if the researchers had stumbled upon their discovery accidentally (which is not uncommon in the world of research).
If you have hair on your head, then you also have hair proteins called keratins. Proteins are commonly referred to as “the building blocks of life”, which explains why keratins make up the structural components of our hair. They are also responsible for our nails and the skin’s outer layer also.
Now, these keratins have also been theorized to play a role in the formation of our dental enamel. So keratins are important for our hair, nails, skin, and enamel.
What They Actually Found…
There are many different types of these keratin proteins, but researchers were able to pinpoint one, keratin 75, which caught their attention. They noticed that mutations in this keratin’s gene were linked to hair disorders such as shave bumps.
Curiously enough, they wondered if these mutations also correlated with the integrity of our tooth enamel in some way.
After examining 706 adults and 386 children they did in fact find a correlation between keratin 75 mutations and increased numbers in cavities. Digging even deeper, they were able to find evidence of altered enamel structure and reduced enamel hardness in those with the mutated hair protein.
This all points to one thing: keratin 75 plays an integral role in the development of our tooth’s enamel.
What Does The Discovery Mean?
Research is meaningless if we cannot find some type of value in it. Fortunately, this discovery will lead the way in finding alternative, overlooked solutions to battling one of the largest problems we face: cavities. And it’s not just for adults, but children as well.
We do not know exactly what researchers and biologists will do next with the discovery, but it’s exciting to see what solutions they will bring to the table that prove more effectiveness over what is currently offered (i.e. toothpaste, etc.).