Dentist have devised a treatment to regenerate rotten teeth which could substantially reduce the need for fillings in the future.
The treatment works by enhancing the natural ability of teeth to fix themselves through the activation of stem cells in the gentle pulp at the centre.
Normally, this particular mechanism is limited to repairing small cracks and openings in dentine, the solid bulk of the tooth underneath the surface enamel. Now scientists have shown that the natural procedure can be enhanced using an Alzheimer’ s drug, allowing the particular tooth’ s own cells to rebuild cavities increasing from the surface to the root.
Professor John Sharpe, who led the work at King’ s University London, said: “ Almost everyone on the planet has tooth corrosion at some time – it’ s a massive volume of people getting treated. We’ ve deliberately tried to make something actually simple, really quick and really cheap. ”
In the trial, in mice, the team showed that whenever defects were filled with a biodegradable sponge soaked within the drug, the tooth was gradually able to rebuild by itself.
Restoring the tooth’ s original dentine structure is preferable because dental cements used in regular fillings weaken the tooth, leave it prone to upcoming infections – and inevitably erode or detach.
In the case of large cavities, the tooth may ultimately need to be extracted after undergoing multiple treatments. The new technique, which would encourage natural tooth repair, has the potential to get rid of these issues, according to the scientists.
“ The teeth is not just a lump of mineral, it’ s obtained its own physiology. You’ re replacing a living tissue by having an inert cement, ” said Sharpe. “ Fillings function fine, but if the tooth can repair itself, surely [that’s] the best way. You’ re restoring all the energy of the tooth. ”
The new treatment may not eliminate the need for the dentist’ s drill, however , considering that decaying sections of the tooth would still need to be eliminated. “ Sorry, you’ re still going to have the drill down, you can’ t get away from that, I’ m scared, ” said Sharpe.
The treatment relies on a drug called tideglusib, which has been assessed as a possible Alzheimer’ s treatment, and which is known to be safe to get clinical use.
Previous work by the group has shown that the drug stimulates stem cells in the centre from the tooth, triggering them to develop into odontoblasts (specialised tooth cells) and boosting the production of dentine, allowing larger problems to be reversed. “ We get more of the cells, much faster and they are more active, ” said Sharpe.
In the study, published in Scientific Reports, the researchers drilled holes into the teeth of mice, inserted the biodegradable collagen sponge soaked in the drug and covered the tooth with a dental adhesive.
Once the teeth were examined several weeks later, the sponge experienced degraded and been replaced with new dentine. Collagen sponges are commercially available and clinically-approved. The teeth preparation of the tooth would be almost identical to that necessary for conventional fillings, according to the scientists.
A outstanding question is whether the method will scale up successfully in order to human teeth, in which cavities can be significantly larger. The particular team are currently testing the technique in rats, in whose teeth are about four times larger than those of rodents, and if this is successful plan to apply later this year to undertake the first clinical trials in patients.
Bill Scheven, an oral cell biologist at the University associated with Birmingham, said that preserving the live tooth tissue has been increasingly viewed as a priority. “ Dentistry is not only about filling up and drilling but also about keeping the teeth healthy, ” he said. “ Especially since it’ s a good accessible and cheap treatment I can imagine this becoming utilized in the clinic. ”
Winnie Wong, the dentist based in Hertfordshire, said: “ Clinically speaking, the very best material is always natural tooth structure, so I’ mirielle sure this method will be encouraged by most dentists. ”
Wong added that the therapy could “ cut down on trauma caused by dentists who are slightly overzealous within their caries removal”. “ I think it would be welcomed amongst individuals, as no one likes going to the dentist to have fillings plus injections, no matter how nice we are! ” she said.