WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Scientists have reported a new procedure to regrow human tooth enamel through the use of a gel that contains a clump of calcium phosphate that is the natural component of enamel.
- Next, the gel was coated on a substance resembling enamel in our teeth, which was then applied on human teeth with damaged enamels.
- Once damaged, tooth enamel doesn’t grow back; it is destroyed by plaque accumulation from too much sugar intake and poor dental hygiene.
Nowadays, tooth decay is a big problem. When cavities arise, people face dental work to have lost enamel replaced by metal alloys and resin. But scientists have recently discovered a technique to essentially regrow human tooth enamel, a measure which they hope will one day be used to repair teeth.
Enamel is the teeth’s outer layer that protects against decay. While it’s known as the toughest biological tissue, too much sugar and poor dental hygiene eventually cause plaque build-up in the mouth. The plaque comes with bacteria that release acid that can damage the hard enamel. When destroyed, tooth enamel doesn’t grow back, resulting in cavities that need fillings.
Current fillings sometimes become loose or fall out, needing replacements. In their bid to solve this problem, China’s Zhejiang University and Xiamen University researchers made a gel that contained the key components of natural tooth enamel such as clusters of calcium and phosphate.
To test it, they coated the gel on a substance similar to the enamel in our teeth called crystalline hydroxyapatite. They observed that the clusters of calcium phosphate in the gel melded into the material, unlike previous trials where the scientists tried using larger clusters, however, with little success.
Afterwards, they coated human teeth (no longer attached to its owners) in the gel after damaging first the enamel with acid. For 48 hours, the teeth were made to stand in conditions that replicate those found inside the human mouth.
Incredibly, the substance formed a coating that resembled the crystalline structure of natural enamel that was as strong and sturdy as the naturally occurring enamel in our teeth. While the layer may be quite thin, study author Ruikang Tang told New Scientist that the gel could be built up by repeated applications.
The researchers said that the next step is testing the gel on mice and later on humans to determine whether it is safe to apply in human mouths.
While the gel is still far from being available to everyone, researchers noted that the process can be potentially developed as an ‘effective cure for enamel erosion in clinical practice.’
The findings are published in Science Advances.
Source: IFL Science