Fillings are set to be consigned to the dustbin of history after British scientists discovered that a drug trialled in Alzheimer’s patients can encourage teeth to regrow and repair themselves by filling in cavities with natural tooth material.
Researchers at King’s College London found that the drug Tideglusib stimulates the stem cells contained in the pulp of teeth so that they generate new dentine – the mineralised material under the enamel.
The breakthrough will reduce the need for fillings of cements, which are prone to infection, can be toxic to the body, and often need replacing a number of times.
Futurism reports: Tideglusib works by stimulating stem cells in the pulp of teeth, the source of new dentine. Dentine is the mineralized substance beneath tooth enamel that gets eaten away by tooth decay.
Teeth can naturally regenerate dentine without assistance, but only under certain circumstances. The pulp must be exposed through infection (such as decay) or trauma to prompt the manufacture of dentine. But even then, the tooth can only regrow a very thin layer naturally—not enough to repair cavities caused by decay, which are generally deep. Tideglusib changes this outcome because it turns off the GSK-3 enzyme, which stops dentine from forming.
In the research, the team inserted small, biodegradable sponges made of collagen soaked in Tideglusib into cavities. The sponges triggered dentine growth and within six weeks, the damage was repaired. The collagen structure of the sponges melted away, leaving only the intact tooth.
Thus far, the procedure has only been used in mouse teeth. Yet as King’s College London Dental Institute Professor and lead author Paul Sharpe told The Telegraph, “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.”
He added, “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.”