The worlds of dentistry and medicine continue to explode with innovative products and technology. The reason that not many people enjoy going to the dentist is that they rarely get good news. Although people are taking better care of their teeth than was the case decades ago, high-sugar diets and non-fluoridated filtered water bottles are taking their toll on dental health.
Tissue regeneration is the newest target for dental researchers. One of the most exciting developments in several years, scientists have created a gel that works by regrowing tooth enamel without any pain. The best part is that it is capable of stopping the tooth decay that can result in dental disease.
With the cost of dental implants rising, the University of Southern California is working on a new tissue regeneration process that actually works to regrow artificial hard tissue. That might not sound so amazing, but it is. That means that it can reduce tooth decay and the pain that is associated with it. Tooth decay is one of the most prevalent chronic disease issues in the field of dentistry, so the new gel is slated to completely revolutionize dental care and disease prevention and treatment.
Regrowing tooth enamel is nothing new. Dentists like Janet Moradian-Oldak have been working on developing a viable method to regrow the enamel on teeth for more than twenty years. Enamel is the hard outer covering that protects the tooth. Once the enamel is chipped away, then the tooth is left vulnerable to tooth decay. A big hurdle up until now has been the fact that unlike bones, tooth enamel can’t rejuvenate on its own. The reason? It is not a living tissue, rather just a tough outer shell.
While helping another research initiative, Moradian-Oldak stumbled onto an answer to the regrowth problem by isolating an enzyme found in teeth. The matrix metalloproteinase-20 enzyme works to break up amelogenin proteins. The MMP-20, as it is called, then works to allow material to take up the empty space. Finally finding a relevant enzyme for the prevention of protein occlusion within a crystal, she had a moment of clarity that led her to search for a new form of enamel that would work in the same way.
The MMP-20 is capable of allowing the cells to make an enamel-like material, which is the hardest material in the body. The result was the production of a material that has been shown to reduce tooth decay and lesions by as much as an astonishing seventy percent. The discovery of the enzyme and how it works to create enamel has practical applications for finding further biomaterials that will aid in the restoration and repair of teeth for future generations.
Although it’s not approved by the FDA yet, the new enamel-growing gel material is being tested in the preclinical phase. If it is approved, people will be able to use the hydrogel overnight by applying it to their teeth, and it will reduce the pain sensitivity that can come with chronic dental conditions. It will also help to regrow enamel to stop any further damage.
The current formulations found in the local aisles of your supermarket are better than before at helping to reduce pain, but they are more like a patch than a real solution to the problem. Having to be used long-term and on a consistent basis, they work to fill in the holes and cracks in teeth, but their effects don’t last very long.
That is why the new gel is so exciting. It can help to repair teeth and the pain associated with tooth issues, whether it is from gum recession exposing the nerves or from grinding your teeth at night. Being able to regrow the enamel to minimize tooth pain and sensitivity as well as decay over the long term is a really awesome thing.
There is no doubt that the dental products available in just the last decade do a better job at helping people who have experienced tooth decay or have teeth sensitivity than anything that has come before. But the prospect of being able to regrow enamel to help in tissue regeneration is something that was only once dreamed of. Hopefully coming soon to a dentist near you, it might be the cure to your tooth issues for now and well into the future.