A new wonder drug that can repair teeth without the need of fillings could herald the end of numb mouths and painful drilling for millions of dentist patients.
Scientists at London’s Dental Institute have discovered that a drug treatment for Alzheimer’s disease also promotes teeth repairing themselves naturally.
Dentists have known for a long time that teeth can regenerate by forming a layer of hard dentine over small cavities, but the natural process cannot produce enough dentine to protect large cavities.
But the drug tideglusib is a game-changer for dentists.
Ingredients in the drug supercharge dentine production and let the body naturally repair large defects in the teeth.
Simple, no pain approach
The researchers found applying the drug on sponges led to the sponge degrading as dentine covered the treated area. The drug switches off an enzyme that stops the body producing dentine.
After six weeks, many teeth were completely repaired.
Now, clinical trials are ready to start in dental practices on consenting patients.
Professor Paul Sharpe, one of the study leaders, said: “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.”
Revolutionary approach to dentistry
The team hopes that the discovery will revolutionise dental treatment, banishing manmade cements and drilling to the past for many patients.
“The novel, biological approach could see teeth use their natural ability to repair large cavities rather than using cements or fillings, which are prone to infections and often need replacing several times.” said Sharpe.
“Indeed, when fillings fail or infection occurs, dentists must remove and fill an area that is larger than what is affected, and after multiple treatments the tooth may eventually need to be extracted.
“As this new method encourages natural tooth repair, it could eliminate these issues, providing a more natural solution for patients.”
Dentists expect the treatment will remove the need for drilling and extracting teeth, saving time and cutting treatment costs for millions of patients worldwide.