Good news for the many people out there struggling with the pain and cost of dental care: Scientists may have found a way to save your teeth.
Tooth enamel is the hard mineralized outer layer of your teeth that protects the root. Once it begins to soften and fail a person faces cavities and the possibility of further damage to the tooth resulting in increasingly invasive and expensive procedures like root canals and sometimes even the loss of the tooth. As such, enamel is vitally important but it cannot effectively repair itself once damaged, leading to imperfect and temporary fixes like fillings.
But now scientists may have made a major leap in solving the problem of eroding enamel.
According to a new story in the Guardian scientists have come up with a new way to repair enamel that addresses a lot of the problems with previous approaches. The innovative new method uses calcium phosphate clusters to regenerate the tooth’s enamel by adhering to the tooth and creating a layer with a similar structure as natural enamel.
According to the Guardian:
“The team says this is important because it means that as the new layer transforms and becomes crystalline over time, it extends the underlying structure in a continuous manner, rather than forming many crystalline regions.”
After testing their method on an enamel-like compound the researchers applied it to actual teeth and the results were extremely promising.
“The team then applied their clusters to human teeth which had been exposed to acid. They discovered that within 48 hours the clusters had given rise to a crystalline layer, about 2.7 micrometers thick, with the complex, fish-scales-like structure of the underlying natural enamel.”
“The repaired enamel had a similar strength and wear-resistance to natural, undamaged enamel.”
The Guardian quotes Dr. Zhaoming Liu of Zhejiang University in China, who co-authored the study, and says: “After intensive discussion with dentists, we believe that this new method can be widely used in future.”
The new technique may still be a few years off from implementation as further studies need to be done, but it’s offering a great deal of hope for the estimated several billion people with tooth problems.