Scientists Discover A New Method of Natural Tooth Repair

There’s been a major scientific breakthrough at the Dental Institute at King’s College London, with the potential to change the field of restorative dentistry as we know it. According to a recent article from Science Daily, a team of researchers have discovered a new method of stimulating the renewal of living stem cells in tooth pulp using an Alzheimer’s drug.

When a tooth is exposed to infection or trauma, the soft pulp on the inside of a tooth can become vulnerable to infection. The body naturally produces a thin band of dentine to seal the tooth pulp in an effort to protect it, however it isn’t enough to effectively repair large cavities. Traditionally, dentists use man-made cements or fillings to treat these larger cavities, filling the holes found in teeth. While the filling helps protect, the normal mineral level of a tooth is never completely restored. Until now.

Scientists from the Dental Institute at King’s College London have proven a way to stimulate the stem cells contained in the pulp of a tooth and generate new dentine in large cavities. This new development may potentially reduce the need for fillings or cements. Even more, because fillings can fail and infection can eventually set in, teeth with large cavities may eventually require extraction. This new method of natural tooth repair could eliminate this issue.

One of the small molecules used to stimulate the renewal of the stem cells includes Tideglusib, used in clinical trials to treat neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s disease. This is significant because it means that the treatment could be fast-tracked into practice.

During their studies, researchers applied low doses of small molecule glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) to the tooth using biodegradable collagen sponges. They discovered that the sponge degraded over time and that new dentine replaced it, leading to natural repair. Collagen sponges are already commercially-available and clinically-approved. This also adds to the potential of the treatment’s quick pick-up and use in dental clinics.

“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,” said lead author of the study, Professor Paul Sharpe. “In addition, 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.”

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