Does the thought of going to the dentist make you shudder? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. But help could be on the way for the one in four people who suffer from dental anxiety.
Stem cells: the key to tooth repair
Stem cells are often heralded as the future of medicine, having been used in a variety of cases to help tissue to regrow or repair itself. Well, now scientists have found that stem cells in the pulp at the centre of the tooth can be activated to repair damage caused by tooth decay. This exciting new research could signal a future without fillings!
In a study published in Scientific Reports, scientists at King’s College London explained how they have taken a drug known as tideglusib, originally intended to treat Alzheimer’s disease, and used it to rebuild cavities.
The treatment was administered to holes in the teeth of mice which were treated with a sponge soaked in the medicine. The results showed the teeth gradually able to repair themselves.
It works by developing the stem cells into odontoblasts (special tooth cells) which then boosts the production of dentine, enabling larger cavities to be reversed.
The process is currently being tested on rats to see if it can be scaled up to human teeth. If successful, there will be a plan submitted for patient trials, which could prove very exciting for the dental industry – and long-time sufferers of tooth decay!
The problem with fillings
Fillings have been used for about 150 years, but they are less than ideal, weakening tooth structure over time and even coming loose.
Prof Paul Sharpe, who led the study, said: “The tooth is not just a lump of mineral, it’s got its own physiology. You’re replacing a living tissue with an inert cement. Fillings work fine, but if the tooth can repair itself, surely [that’s] the best way. You’re restoring all the vitality of the tooth.”
Sadly, the dentist’s drill won’t be going anywhere just yet. Even if this treatment is passed for use in patients, decaying sections of the tooth will still need to be removed in order to be rebuilt. But a future with a restored tooth is a lot brighter than one with fillings!
Enjoy a comfortable dental visit in Notting Hill
At Number 18, we know the dentist’s drill gives some patients a fright. Sometimes it is a necessity to ensure we protect what’s left of a decaying tooth. Our patients choose us, however, because we specialise in minimally invasive dentistry, using keyhole techniques to save as much of the tooth structure as possible.
We’re also able to remove plaque without the need for contact with our EMS Air-Flow technology, which puts our patients much more at ease. And we offer a variety of treatments from dental implants to white fillings to ensure your smile stays the best it can be.