The days of tooth chiseling, hammering and filling will soon be over as scientists at King’s College,London, discover a way of making the teeth repair itself.
The group of London scientists proved that a drug, tideglusib, could stimulate cells in the dental pulp to heal small holes in the teeth of mice.
A biodegradable sponge was soaked in the drug and then put inside the tooth cavity.
The research was published in Science Reports and revealed that the technique brought about a complete and effective natural repair.
The Teeth has very limited regenerative abilities. That is why tooth cavities especially larger holes do not close up spontaneously.
Usually, dentists repair tooth decay and dental caries with a mixture of metals or a blend of powdered glass and ceramic that are used to fill the cavities.
However, “tooth filling” with synthetic materials often wares off eventually and the procedure having to be repeated several times during a lifetime.
By contrast, this new discovery has found a way to boost the natural regenerative capacity of the teeth to fill larger holes by itself.
The study found that the drug,tideglusib, increased the activity of stem cells in the dental pulp and facilitate the repair of holes about 0.13mm large in mice teeth.
The new technique involved placing a drug-soaked sponge in the hole and applying a protective cover at the top such that as the sponge breaks down, it is replaced by dentine that repairs the tooth cavity.
One of the researchers, Prof. Paul Sharpe remarked that “The sponge is biodegradable, that is the key thing”.
He also added that the space occupied by the sponge becomes full of minerals as the dentine regenerates so you don’t have anything in there to fail in the future.
So much for regenerative medicine
The field of regenerative medicine is fast growing, it is about finding techniques to make cells divide and proliferate rapidly to repair damaged parts of the body and this has raised concerns about a possible increase in the number of cancer cases.
Tideglusib, the drug used to stimulate dental pulp cells, alters Wnt chemical signals in the cells; this has been implicated in the genesis of some tumours.
Tideglusib has also undergone trial in patients for the treatment of dementia.
Talking about the drug, Prof Sharpe remarked that “the safety work has been done and at much higher concentrations so hopefully we’re on to a winner”.
The new thereapy for cavity repair was projected to be available commercially in the next three to five years.
Another group at King’s College is working on how electricity and natural minerals like calcium and phosphate can be used to strengthen the teeth.
Normally minerals flow into the teeth with acid produced when bacteria acts on food in the mouth.
The group is using small electric current to drive minerals deep into the tooth, they believe that “Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralisation” can give strength to the teeth and help reduce occurrence of dental caries.