Experimental dental treatments "regrow" teeth and heal cavities
Dental researchers are developing medications and laser therapies that could stimulate decayed, cavity-bearing teeth to heal themselves. The researchers hope to replace existing cavity treatments, which require dentists to drill patients' teeth and fill them with synthetic amalgam.

By Rick Docksai | 5 hours ago

Dental fillings may be dentists' go-to option for treating cavities now, but dental researchers are testing out new procedures that could stimulate decayed teeth to heal themselves. These treatments, which include experimental "small molecule" drugs and laser therapies, could regrow dental tissue or even whole new teethwith no drilling or filling required.

Researchers at Kings College London see potential for treating cavities pharmaceutically with Tidesglusib, which was originally developed for use against Alzheimer's disease. Paul Sharpe, a Kings College biologist, led research that found that this drug also appears to coax the soft pulp tissue at the centers of our teeth to grow new layers of dentin, the hard substance that forms our teeth's outer surface enamel.

Researchers have only tested Tidesglusib's dental applications in rats so far, but Sharpe said that human trials could start within the next year. He hopes to see it replace the standard dental-filling procedures that seal cavities with amalgam, a substance that sometimes crumbles and falls out and also contains potentially unhealthy amounts of mercury.

"There's a big need for biology to impact upon dentistry and drag it out of the 19th century," Sharpe said, explaining that current cavity treatment methods "haven't changed much in the past hundred years."

Other researchers at the University of Buffalo in New York are exploring laser-based solutions to cavities. Praveen Arany, a university assistant professor of oral biology, has been overseeing studies that shine low-power lasers on affected teeth's exposed pulp and stimulate it to produce new dentin. Natural dentin is more resilient than existing synthetic tissue that dentists use currently, Arany said.

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