I've never enjoyed getting my teeth filled, partly because I'm no masochist and partly because I've had to have most of them worked on, thanks to problems with them early in life. I guess it's too late for this to benefit me, but I can hope that those born more recently may not have to undergo as much drilling as I did. Science Daily reports:
Researchers at the University of Leeds have discovered a pain-free way of tackling dental decay that reverses the damage of acid attack and re-builds teeth as new.
The pioneering treatment promises to transform the approach to filling teeth forever.
. . .
Their solution is to arm dentists with a peptide-based fluid that is literally painted onto the tooth's surface. The peptide technology is based on knowledge of how the tooth forms in the first place and stimulates regeneration of the tooth defect.
"This may sound too good to be true, but we are essentially helping acid-damaged teeth to regenerate themselves. It is a totally natural non-surgical repair process and is entirely pain-free too," said Professor Jennifer Kirkham, from the University of Leeds Dental Institute, who has led development of the new technique.
The 'magic' fluid was designed by researchers in the University of Leeds' School of Chemistry, led by Dr Amalia Aggeli. It contains a peptide known as P 11-4 that -- under certain conditions -- will assemble together into fibres. In practice, this means that when applied to the tooth, the fluid seeps into the micro-pores caused by acid attack and then spontaneously forms a gel. This gel then provides a 'scaffold' or framework that attracts calcium and regenerates the tooth's mineral from within, providing a natural and pain-free repair.
The technique was recently taken out of the laboratory and tested on a small group of adults whose dentist had spotted the initial signs of tooth decay. The results from this small trial have shown that P 11-4 can indeed reverse the damage and regenerate the tooth tissue.
There's more at the link.
I find it absolutely mind-boggling to think that someone can paint something onto your teeth that will actually cause them to regenerate! If they can get this right for dentine and enamel, can they do something similar for bones and other hard tissues? Could this be the beginning of regenerative medicine on a much broader scale?