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Take part in our ongoing research

Would you like to support our research by taking part as a donor? We are currently looking for adults and children to donate their childhood milk teeth for protein analysis. Using your teeth, we can improve our ability to identify male and female adults and children that are hundreds or thousands of years old! 

Check out our participation steps below, and see underneath for more information.

Can I donate?

You can choose to donate one or many teeth. They must be your own teeth, or teeth from a child of whom you are a parent or legal guardian. For our research, we must know if each tooth is from a boy/man, or a girl/woman. 
It is also useful if you can tell us how old you were when the tooth was lost, and if you know which tooth it is exactly.

You can also choose to donate any teeth that you have had extracted by a dentist, for example your wisdom teeth. Do not worry if your teeth have cavities in them - this is fine! 

How do I donate?

There are three easy steps to donate:
- Download the sample information form and tell us about the teeth you are donating.
- Read the information sheet and sign the informed consent form at the end.
- Put your tooth/teeth in a bag, box, or envelope, and send it to us! 

If you choose to submit your sample information and consent forms electronically, you must tell us how you have marked the bag with your teeth. The bag must be clearly marked with the same code or name.

What happens next?

We will drill a small part of the enamel off the surface of the tooth. Then we will extract proteins from the enamel, and analyse the proteins using a mass spectrometer. This allows us to see the differences between male and female teeth! Finally, we will build a statistical model that allows us to display the certainty of female sex as a percentage, rather than a binary output. 
This is important because males have a small amount of a protein called amelogenin-Y, which women don't have. As it is a small amount, sometimes amelogenin-Y is not detected in males, especially in ancient teeth that have decayed over time. Using statistics, we can understand how much amelogenin-Y different males naturally have in their teeth, and say whether someone might still be male even if we don't find this male protein, or if they are definitely female. 

We will also look at protein differences between different teeth, for example whether a canine has more protein per milligram than a molar. We will also look at differences between milk teeth and adult teeth at all different ages, based on when the tooth was lost or removed. This could help us to identify the age of ancient people, as well as their sex. 

Eventually, the results of this study will be published. You can choose to be notified when this happens.

Are you a teacher who is interested in the project? You can contact us for free teaching materials for children (5-9 years old & 10-12 years old) to learn about the parts of their teeth and about adult tooth growth. 

Donate Now

By filling out the following documents, you consent to your teeth being used for this research purpose. You may withdraw your consent at any time up to the point of publication. Your personal data will be securely stored and used only as far as is strictly necessary for the purposes of the study. 

For any further questions and queries, you can email alexandra.burnett@ugent.be. Further contact details are listed in the forms linked below.

If you wish to donate a tooth/teeth which fell out naturally, please use the following forms:

[Link to download ICF naturally shed dentition]

[Link to download sample info sheet naturally shed dentition]

If you wish to donate a tooth/teeth which were extracted by a licensed dentist, please use these forms. If you are going to have a tooth extracted in future, please bring these forms along to your dental appointment:

[Link to download ICF extracted teeth]

[Link to download sample information sheet extractions]

Where to send your teeth 

Please send all samples, securely packaged and labelled, along with your completed forms, to the following address:

Alexandra Burnett

LabFBT, Block A Ground Floor

Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences 

Ottergemsesteenweg 460

9000 Gent

You must not send teeth from countries other than Belgium!

Thank you!

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