Scientists Discover Drug That May Allow Cavity-Damaged Teeth to Grow Back Naturally
Technology| | By Brian Delpozo
In news that’s sure to bring a smile to the face of anyone who needs dental work, the days of fillings being the only way to deal with a mouthful of cavities may be coming to an end. According to recent research, a drug known as Tideglusib might hold the key to regrowing teeth.
Tideglusib’s potential effects on teeth were actually first discovered during the drug’s clinical trials for potential use on Alzheimer’s patients. By stimulating the stem cells present in teeth, the drug leads to new dentine — the hard, dense tissues that form the bulk of teeth beneath enamel that is eaten away by tooth decay — being created.
Teeth can naturally regenerate dentine without assistance, but only under certain circumstances. The pulp must be exposed through infection (such as decay) or trauma to prompt the manufacture of dentine. But even then, the tooth can only regrow a very thin layer naturally — not enough to repair cavities caused by decay, which are generally deep. Tideglusib changes this outcome because it turns off the GSK-3 enzyme, which stops dentine from forming.
So far, the treatment has been successfully tested on rats. Small, biodegradable sponges soaked in Tideglusib were injected into cavities. The Tideglusib led to new dentine growth, and the damage to the tooth was fixed within weeks. The sponge then degrades into nothing, leaving the new healthy tooth behind.
Professor Paul Sharp, the lead author of the study, is hopeful that the fact that Tideglusib was used in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s will get it into clinical usage quickly. He explained to The Telegraph how beneficial the treatment can be, for both the physical and mental health of those in need of dental work.
“Creating a more natural way for the tooth to repair itself could not only eliminate these issues, but also be a far less invasive treatment option for patients. With dental phobia still being very common, using a natural way to stimulate the renewal of dentine could be an especially comforting proposal for these groups, for which undergoing treatment can often be a cause of great anxiety,” Sharp said.
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