Good news for those who hate the look and feel of tooth fillings.
London dentists have figured out a way to regenerate rotten teeth, which could reduce the need for fillings. The therapy promotes the natural ability of teeth to repair themselves through the activation of stem cells in the soft pulp of the center.
The catch? The trial run has been done on mice, so it may be a while before the procedure makes its way to your neighborhood dental office.
In the trial, published in Scientific Reports, the King’s College London team showed that stuffing a defective tooth with a biodegradable sponge soaked in a special drug can get the tooth to gradually rebuild itself. The drug, tideglusib, which has been assessed as a potential Alzheimer’s treatment, allows the tooth’s own cells to rebuild cavities all the way down to the root.
This drug-soaked sponge method would be preferable to the dental cements now used in traditional fillings, because these cements weaken the tooth and leave it susceptible to future infections. Larger cavities are often extracted after undergoing multiple treatments.
The method tried by the London dentists, however, could eliminate these issues by encouraging natural tooth repair.
“Almost everyone on the planet has tooth decay at some time — it’s a massive volume of people being treated,” Prof Paul Sharpe, who led the work at King’s College London, told The Guardian. “We’ve deliberately tried to make something really simple, really quick and really cheap.”
The bad news? Dentists would still have to use that goosebump-inducing drill to remove the decay.
“Sorry, you’re still going to have the drill. You can’t get away from that, I’m afraid,” said Sharpe.