Posted January 3, 2017
It’s a cause for celebration: Tooth decay soon may be treated using new regenerative techniques. For years, dentists have repaired cavities by using a drill to remove the decay and refilling the space with a dental material made of porcelain or metal. Now scientists in England and the United States have developed new pain-free treatment solutions.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham in England and Harvard University in the United States, have created a unique dental filling that prompts teeth to repair themselves. After removing decay with a dental drill, the dentist implants a new therapeutic biomaterial into the tooth. This special material is designed to stimulate stem cells in the tooth to grow dentin, the tissue under the enamel, to repair the tooth.
Sometimes after a tooth is filled, decay may continue to develop underneath. The dentist may recommend a root canal procedure to remove the tooth pulp and refill it to prevent further decay. Scientists believe the new biomaterial will make root canals obsolete because it prompts dentin to regenerate the tooth.
No more drilling
In other research at King’s College London Dental Innovation and Translation Centre, scientists have developed a new pain-free filling technique, called Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralization, to repair cavities without numbing or drilling. Using small, pain-free, electric currents, dentists push calcium and phosphate materials into the damaged tooth. The minerals regenerate the tooth by shrinking and closing the cavity. Scientists discovered another benefit for the procedure: As the tooth heals, the enamel whitens, making it look like new.