It’s possible that a tooth repair drug could be the answer to dental cavities.
Research has found that this tooth repair drug encourages teeth to repair themselves. This could also mean an end to fillings.
The drug in question is Tideglusib. It has been assessed for use in the treatment of Alzheimer’s. However, that may not be its only use for very much longer. A team at Kings College London discovered that the drug heightened the activity of stem cells in the dental pulp of rats. 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.
It is well known that teeth already have limited regeneration abilities. They can produce a thin band of dentine; this is the layer just below the enamel, if the inner dental pulp becomes exposed. However, this cannot repair a large cavity. Usually resulting in a trip to the dentist to have it filled.
Though it’s not clear how much effect the tooth repair drug will have on dentistry yet, fillings are an old staple. Dentists usually repair tooth decay or caries with a filling made of a metal amalgam or a composite of powdered glass and ceramic. This fills the space and prevents further pain and decay. But, it’s common for someone to need the area refilled multiple times in his or her life. The tooth repair drug could eliminate the requirement of that.
One of the researchers of in the study was Prof Paul Sharpe. He spoke to BBC News regarding the potential tooth repair drug:
“The space occupied by the sponge becomes full of minerals as the dentine regenerates so you don’t have anything in there to fail in the future.
“I don’t think it’s massively long term, its quite low-hanging fruit in regenerative medicine and hopeful in a three-to-five year period this would be commercially available.
“The safety work has been done and at much higher concentrations so hopefully we’re on to a winner.”
Though the process of encouraging cells to rapidly divide to repair damage often raises concerns about cancer. Tideglusib alters a series of chemical signals in cells called Wnt. This has been known to be implicated in some tumours. However, due to the drugs testing in the treatment of Alzheimer’s it hasn’t cropped up any concerning data as of yet.
We’re yet to see if this tooth repair drug will make it to human testing or if it will be rolled out as a standard treatment in the dental office. But, its ability to encourage the growth of real dental matter is promising in its case. Would you opt for this treatment over getting a filling?