Research and methods of analysis in MoBaTooth
In this article you will find more information about the purpose of the MoBaTooth biobank and the background for the project, and a brief description of our research and analysis methods.
The purpose of the MoBaTooth biobank is to use primary teeth as a biomarker in research to increase the knowledge on children’s uptake of environmental and food toxins and nutrients during fetal development and early childhood. This knowledge will be used to find causes for the development of disease and condition in children and prevent health damage.
As of 2021, almost 35.000 primary teeth have been registered and archived in the MoBaTooth biobank. The primary teeth are associated with other data from the MoBa-study, and all relevant variables and registers are available at helsedata.no.
The MoBaTooth biobank was established at the Department of Clinical Dentistry (IKO) at the University of Bergen in 2008, and is affiliated with the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa).
From 1999 until 2008 the MoBa study recruited pregnant women at around week 17 of their pregnancy. MoBa is now one of the world’s largest health studies with more than 114.000 pregnancies included. Information is regularly collected from participants using questionnaires, in addition to the collection of biological material such as blood samples, urine samples and the children's shed primary teeth.
Material and methods
Analyses of dental tissues from deciduous teeth can provide information about exposure to toxic and essential elements during fetal development and early childhood. Trace elements from the child's environment and nutrition are built into the dental tissue when the teeth are formed as well as during the formation of secondary dentin. The tooth tissue is formed in layers according to a specific pattern and is very stable and can therefore be used as a kind of tachograph for various exposures during the tooth formation period. At birth, a clear growth line is formed in the tooth – the neonatal line – which makes it possible to distinguish between dental tissue that is formed pre-and postnatally.
In addition to this, dental tissue can show changes and defects that are the result of disease, malnutrition, or exposures to environmental toxins.
Methods of analysis
The analysis methods on primary teeth are becoming increasingly refined. Both organic and inorganic substances can be measured in dental tissue. There are mainly two methods for analysing dental tissue: pulverisation and laser ablation. Today, laser ablation (LA-ICP-MS) is a very sensitive and accurate method for analysing biological material. A micro-meter sized laser beam is directed towards the surface of the analysis material and evaporates part of the material. This is a more tooth-saving method than pulverisation where the entire tooth is used. Inorganic trace elements such as barium and strontium can be detected, as well as heavy metals such as lead and manganese. It is also possible to identify organic substances, such as fatty acids.
MoBaTooth biobank is approved by the Regional Committees for Medical and Health Research Ethics (REC) with project number 189.
The participants in MoBaTooth are all participants in the MoBa-study. Through their participation in MoBa, the participants have consented to research on the primary teeth.
Biobank title: "Norwegian dental bank – Biobank for human primary teeth associated with the Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa)"