If, like me, you’re terrified of going to the dentist, you could be in luck as scientists say they have found a way to grow teeth back and remove the need for fillings.
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The breakthrough took place at King’s College in London where researchers found that a drug already in daily use with Alzheimer’s patients, Tideglusib, can stimulate stem cells located in the pulp of human teeth. They do this by generating new dentine which is the material under the enamel.
Your teeth already have the ability to generate new dentine if they become exposed after an accident, natural erosion or an illness, but it’s not enough to fully cure most cavities. The drug they tested, Tideglusib, has the ability to stimulate the growth of this layer and will, they say, mean that fillings and other traditional dental procedures could be a thing of the past.
“This is an extremely interesting and novel approach which shows great promise and we will look forward to it being translated into clinical application” – Dr Nigel Carter, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation.
The key is with an enzyme named GSK-3; this enzyme usually stops dentine production in the tooth and Tideglusib has the ability to turn it off. The researchers inserted a small amount of degradable material soaked on Tideglusib into a cavity and monitored as the dentine grew and the cavity repaired itself in just 6 weeks.
“The simplicity of our approach makes it ideal as a clinical dental product for the natural treatment of large cavities, by providing both pulp protection and restoring dentine. In addition, using a drug that has already been tested in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease provides a real opportunity to get this dental treatment quickly into clinics.” Professor Paul Sharpe – King’s College London.
Current cavity treatments are usually called fillings and involved filling the holes with silicon or calcium cement. These can look unsightly and never fully restore the natural tooth to its optimum condition. They can also fall out in the case of a trauma and are prone to possible infections.
“This is an extremely interesting and novel approach which shows great promise and we will look forward to it being translated into clinical application that could undoubtedly be a progressive step in the treatment of dental disease. While fillings have remained highly effective in repairing large cavities, they are susceptible to wear-and-tear and can occasionally be in need of repair and replacement. This presents problems as the dentist could have to remove and fill a larger area each time and after numerous treatments the tooth may then have to be extracted.” Dr Nigel Carter, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation.
Tideglusib has been confirmed as a safe drug to use on patients and could lead the way in future dental treatment. This might make me a little more likely to visit the dentist in the near future.
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