Tooth drills could become a thing of the past

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Here’s a glimpse at today’s most fascinating health news tidbits.

A drill-free treatment for tooth decay

Going under the dentist’s drill is nobody’s idea of fun. However, if a new tooth decay treatment finds some private investors, the device (and star of all dental-themed nightmares) could soon become a thing of the past.

A UK-based research team is using electrical pulses to spur decaying teeth into regrowing themselves. Tooth decay is usually treated by drilling into the affected area, so dentists can remove unhealthy material in the teeth before putting fillings in. The problem is, fillings can fail and require replacements.

The new technique, called Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralization (EAER), uses a small electrical current to accelerate a tooth’s ‘remineralising’ process, in which calcium and phosphate minerals re-enter a tooth to repair a defect. The research team aims for the treatment to be available within three years. Fingers crossed… (via IFL Science)

 Broccoli’s pollution-fighting properties

Leafy greens have been getting a lot of great PR recently – especially our old mate kale. Now it’s time for another green veggie to bask in the spotlight, with scientists discovering broccoli can help the body flush out the by-products of benzene – a carcinogen found in polluted air that has been linked to leukaemia.

Subjects participating in the study, which was conducted by two institutes in China, consumed a half cup of tea made with broccoli sprouts every day. Their urine indicated high-level, fast and sustained secretions of benzene, prompting researchers to conclude that broccoli can aid the body in breaking down the chemical compound and getting rid of its by-products. (via The Atlantic)

 Did chimps give us herpes?

We may have yet another thing in common with our closest living relative, the chimpanzee. No, it’s got nothing to do with facial expressions, diet or social skills. It’s… oral herpes.

Researchers analysed herpes strains using new evolutionary models, and found herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), the strain that causes cold sores, has existed for up to seven million years. It appears the forebears of this particular virus infected our ancestors, and then split off from the ancestors of modern chimps. The strains have changed over time with their hosts in a process dubbed host-virus co-divergence, meaning the herpes that can infect chimps these days can’t infect humans, and vice versa. The oral herpes equivalent in chimps is called ChHV. (via The Pacific Standard)