Dental fillings may soon become a thing of the past, as scientists have found a way to renew living stem cells in tooth pulp using an Alzheimer’s drug which could help naturally repair decaying teeth.
Following trauma or an infection, the inner, soft pulp of a tooth can become exposed and infected.
In order to protect the tooth from infection, a thin band of dentine is naturally produced which seals the tooth pulp, but it is insufficient to effectively repair large cavities.
Currently dentists use man-made cements or fillings, such as calcium and silicon-based products, to treat these larger cavities and fill holes in teeth.
This cement remains in the tooth and fails to disintegrate, meaning that the normal mineral level of the tooth is never completely restored.
Scientists from the Dental Institute at King’s College London have proven a way to stimulate the stem cells contained in the pulp of the tooth and generate new dentine -the mineralised material that protects the tooth -in large cavities, potentially reducing the need for fillings or cements.
The novel, biological approach could see teeth use their natural ability to repair large cavities rather than using cements or fillings, which are prone to infections and often need replacing a number of times.
As this new method encourages natural tooth repair, it could eliminate all of these issues, providing a more natural solution for patients.