Consuming very hot or very cold beverages or food can be very painful for individuals with sensitive teeth. For 25% of the American population, this is a real problem. Sensitivity is a result of enamel erosion, which exposes the dentin layer of a tooth. Dentin contains small tubes that are empty inside, and when they ends are open, they allow hot or cold liquids to go straight to the tooth’s nerve. People with sensitive teeth are also more prone to developing cavities, making the condition even more serious.
Current treatments for tooth sensitivity include closing of these microtubules using a material called nanohydroxyapatite. But, according to a recent Medical News Today article, this material is not resistant enough and is unable to block bacteria from penetrating. This is why a team of researchers from Wuhan University in China set out to explore alternative therapies, and they happened to find one, using green tea.
The team created a “versatile biomaterial” using the traditional material nanohydroxyapatite, but also adding a key ingredient derived from green tea. The compound is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (ECGC) which is the most active polyphenol in green tea. Previous studies have shown that the compound is effective in battling cavity causing bacteria. Testing determined that the new biomaterial successfully blocked the dentin’s microtubules and reduced dentin permeability. The material was also shown to be resistant to erosion and abrasion. The research team is hopeful that this material will successfully treat tooth sensitivity in the near future.