Within five years, dental fillings may be a thing of the past
A new drug called Tideglusib has the ability to regeneration in teeth, meaning dental fillings, and it may be available within five years.
No matter how divided we get as a nation and as a people, the majority of us can all agree on one thing: we generally hate going to the dentist.
It’s not the dentists’ fault, of course, it’s more a matter of the pain we associate with trips to the dental chair. Even the best dentist can’t completely promise that a visit will be completely pain free, but a new discovery from a team of researchers working at King’s College London could significantly take the sting off the experience.
The team is currently experimenting with a new chemical that so far is proving to have the ability to encourage cells in teeth to heal themselves. That means that dental fillings could be a thing of the past, as our own teeth may be able to fill in cavities without any drills or other potentially painful tools.
The way it works is that a tiny sponge is soaked in a drug called Tideglusib, which s then put inside a cavity and covered with a protective coating. The drug is capable of triggering the activity of stem cells in the dental pulp, allowing them to repair holes. The drug has only been tested in mice so far, but the results have been remarkable, with holes as big as 0.13mm completing healing themselves. Given how small mice teeth are, that’s a significant hole to heal.
Teeth naturally have some ability to regenerate, just not enough to prevent a trip to the dentist. Below the enamel, teeth can produce a thin band of dentine. It isn’t nearly enough to repair a cavity, but it can offer some minor recovery. The drug exploits that regenerative property.
The new treatment will bypass the need to fill a cavity with a metal amalgam or a composite of powdered glass and ceramic. This process frequently needs to be repeated several times throughout a patient’s life, but if the tooth heals itself, that won’t be necessary.
While the drug itself is impressive, what really makes this treatment stand out is the sponge. It dissolves over time while allowing it to saturate the cavity. Once it breaks down, it is replaced by dentine.
“The space occupied by the sponge becomes full of minerals as the dentine regenerates so you don’t have anything in there to fail in the future,” said Professor Paul Sharpe, one of the researchers working on the project.
This is far from the only research project hoping to regenerate teeth, but what makes this one especially attractive is that the drug has already been tested in patients as a possible treatment for dementia. There will need to be more tests to guarantee that it is ready for dental use, but given that it has been tested once already, the process should move quickly.
“I don’t think it’s massively long term,” professor Sharp said of the time frame in getting the treatment to the public. “[I[t’s quite low-hanging fruit in regenerative medicine and hopeful in a three-to-five year period this would be commercially available.”