Wouldn’t it be amazing to eat as much junk food as you want without worrying about a painful visit to the dentist? Turns out researchers have found a way to regenerate your teeth by using a drug normally given to treat Alzheimer’s patients. A team of scientists have managed to repair cavities by stimulating the naturally occurring stem cells in the tooth to rebuild the dens bony tissue that makes up a tooth. Aint’ science just grand?
The drug stimulates bran-cell regeneration in those with Alzheimer’s but when applied topically to teeth, it suppressed the release of a kind of tau protein, which allowed a tooth to sprout new stem cells; leading to the replenishment of dentin. Essentially strengthening a once weekend tooth.
The King’s College researchers put the enzyme inhibitor, doses of small molecule glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3), on biodegradable collagen sponges, stuck them in subjects’ teeth where cavities had formed and found they healed up without the need for any drilling or filling.
(A) photograph of upper first molars. (B) A 1/4 carbide burr cuts the tooth exposing the dentine until the roof of the pulp chamber (red dashed line). (C) Using a needle the dental pulp is exposed, indicated by the arrowheads. (D) The collagen sponge is soaked in drug and a small piece of it, indicated by the black dashed line, is removed for the direct capping. (E) The injury capped with MTA. (F) The sponge piece condensed inside the exposed pulp area. (G) The tooth is then sealed with glass ionomer until the date of collection. (H) MicroCT image right after capping showing the close contact of MTA (RO area indicated by arrow) with the dental pulp and the glass ionomer sealing. (I) MicroCT image right after capping showing the close contact of the collagen sponge (RL area indicated by arrow) with the dental pulp and the glass ionomer sealing. ED, exposed dentine; EP, exposed pulp; CS, collagen sponge; GI, glass ionomer; RO, radiopaque; RL, radiolucent.
Professor Paul Sharpe, lead author of the study published in Nature said in a statement that:
“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.”
When the teeth were examined several weeks later, the sponge had degraded and been replaced with new dentine. Collagen sponges are commercially available and clinically-approved. The dental preparation of the tooth would be almost identical to that required for conventional fillings, according to the scientists.
Sharpe added that:
“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…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.”
(A) 4 weeks MTA repair shows dentine formed underneath where the material was placed. (B) Collagen sponge shows sparse dentine formation in the dental pulp. (C) BIO, (D) CHIR, and (E) Tideglusib repairs show dense dentine formation at the injury site with vital pulp after 4 weeks. (F) 6 weeks MTA repair shows dentine formed underneath where the material was placed. (G) Collagen sponge repair shows little and immature dentine formed at the injury site after 6 weeks. (H) BIO treatment shows new mature dentine formed where the sponge was placed filling the injury site. (I) CHIR treatment shows mature new mature dentine formed where the sponge was placed filling the injury site. (J) Tideglusib treatment shows complete repair with vital dental pulp after 6 weeks.
In the case of large cavities, the tooth may eventually need to be extracted after undergoing multiple treatments. The new method, which would encourage natural tooth repair, has the potential to eliminate these issues, according to the scientists. But remember, it’s still very important to brush every morning and night, okay.
The full paper “Promotion of natural tooth repair by small molecule GSK-3 antagonists” has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Images: Nature, Shutterstock, Promotion of natural tooth repair by small molecule GSK3 antagonists (Vitor C. M. Neves, Rebecca Babb, Dhivya Chandrasekaran & Paul T. Sharpe)