Have you ever wished for a world where you never needed to get a dental filling? Good news might be on the horizon - researchers in London have discovered a drug that helps restore healthy teeth naturally.
In this article, we’ll discuss how the drug works, what it means (and doesn’t mean) for patients, and what it means for dentistry.
How is tooth decay treated today?
Tooth pulp is the soft, center part of your tooth. It is full of nerves and provides vitality to the tooth. When your tooth is damaged from something like a cavity, the pulp could get infected. Our body has a natural defense against this, however. A thin layer of dentin (the hard, calcified tissue that makes up the bulk of a tooth) is formed around the hole to help protect the pulp from outside material.
Some cavities, however, are too big and the body’s ability to create dentin is not sufficient to protect the pulp. If the pulp gets damaged, then root canal therapy is required to save the tooth, but sometimes the tooth must be removed altogether. In order to protect the pulp, dentists will often fill the cavity with something like a composite filling.
Composite fillings are far superior to the metal fillings of decades past. They match the natural look of your tooth and provide strength and stability to the tooth.
Your teeth are living things, but composite fillings, of course, are not. While they can fill the holes in teeth and protect the tooth pulp, we would all prefer a world in which your natural tooth can heal itself.
How can teeth repair themselves?
Researchers have been exploring ways to improve the health of teeth. Lead researcher, Paul Sharpe, recognized that "teeth have a limited ability to repair themselves by activating their own stem cells.” Their goal was to find a way to enhance the tooth’s natural ability to heal itself.
As it turns out, a drug known as Tideglusib that was created for Alzheimer’s treatment has shown it can improve the healing ability of teeth. Researchers tested the drug on mice by placing Tideglusib on a biodegradable sponge and then filled a cavity hole with the sponge. As the sponge dissolved, it was replaced by dentin and led to the full restoration of teeth in 6 weeks.
What does this mean for patients?
If you’ve read about this research or heard about it in the news, you’re probably wondering what it means for you. There are a few things to keep in mind:
- This won’t be ready tomorrow: There is still quite a bit of research to be done to determine if this is a safe and effective treatment for humans. If it works, it could be several years away.
- But it might be ready sooner than you think: Because Tideglusib was already approved for testing with Alzheimer’s patients (they found it wasn’t effective for that disease unfortunately), it may speed the process of testing this treatment with humans.
- You still need to take care of your teeth: This won’t be a pill that suddenly solves all your oral problems. Good oral hygiene and prevention are still going to be the best way to fight tooth decay.
- If you have a cavity today, you’ll need a filling: Unfortunately, cavities require quick treatment. You won’t be able to put off treatment for a few years in the hopes of a potential new treatment reducing the need for fillings.
- We’re working to find the best solutions for our patients: the world of dentistry keeps getting better and better. Just like how we moved from metal fillings to composite fillings, we’re always looking to improve the services we provide. This means patients can look forward to the future.
What does this mean for dentistry?
This is an exciting possibility for dentists everywhere. Here at Advanced Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, our goal is to always stay on the cutting edge of technology and research so that we can provide our patients with the best possible care. The process of applying Tideglusib is very similar to a normal cavity filling. Instead of placing an artificial filler, dentists will encourage the natural growth of dentin. This means you’ll still need to visit your dentist for treatment of cavities.
While there is still a lot of research to be done before it’s determined that Tideglusib is a safe and viable way to heal tooth pulp, we will be watching closely to see where the research goes and what it means for our patients.
In the meantime, if you require a dental checkup, treatment for tooth decay, or any other dental service, look no further than Advanced Cosmetic & Family Dentistry. Based in the Alpharetta, GA area, we love working with patients to give them healthy, beautiful smiles they can be proud of. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.