‘Tooth repair drug’ may replace fillings
Teeth can be encouraged to repair themselves in a way that could see an end to fillings, say scientists.
By James Gallagher
Jan 9 2017
The team at King’s College London showed that a chemical could encourage cells in the dental pulp to heal small holes in mice teeth.
A biodegradable sponge was soaked in the drug and then put inside the cavity.
The study, published in Science Reports, showed it led to “complete, effective natural repair”.
Teeth have limited regenerative abilities. They can produce a thin band of dentine – the layer just below the enamel – if the inner dental pulp becomes exposed, but this cannot repair a large cavity.
Normally dentists have to repair tooth decay or caries with a filling made of a metal amalgam or a composite of powdered glass and ceramic.
These can often need replacing multiple times during someone’s lifetime, so the researchers tried to enhance the natural regenerative capacity of teeth to repair larger holes.
They discovered that a drug called Tideglusib heightened the activity of stem cells in the dental pulp so they could repair 0.13mm holes in the teeth of mice.
A drug-soaked sponge was placed in the hole and then a protective coating was applied over the top.
As the sponge broke down it was replaced by dentine, healing the tooth.