How cell stimulation could become the new cavity solution
Monday, January 22, 2018
The beginning of a new year brings hope for new technologies and innovations to enhance the work of businesses all over the world. There is no question 2018 could be a great year for advances in dental technology, but what about new ways to address the most common problems? Like fighting cavities.
It may sound like an old-school problem, but the fact is that almost every American has cavities. More specifically, a whopping 91 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 64 have them. That's a really high number when you consider how long dentists have tried to educate patients on how to prevent this problem.
Nonetheless, there are some new advancements in cavity-fighting, and one significant way may come in the form of stem cells and cell "stimulating" medications.
Being able to do more than the usual "drill and fill" solution should be music to a dentist's ears. Not only is it a process that's been around for years, but it doesn't always provide the patient with a happy ending. When the amalgam in the tooth fails to hold up, it requires additional work.
The idea behind these new "small molecule" drugs is having a patient's teeth repair themselves. If it works, it could revolutionize tooth growth and repair.
A report from NBC News points out that these medications could "trick" stem cells within a pulp to regrow enough tissue to fill cavities. One drug that seems especially intriguing is also being tested to help treat Alzheimer's disease.
It's called Tideglusib. It's a low-cost experimental drug that could quickly work its way through trials because it's already passed several safety tests. Human testing of Tideglusib could take place this year, and if all goes well, dentists will have a solution that doesn't involve amalgam and the risks that come with it.
Dr. Paul Sharpe, professor of Stem Biology at Kings College London has been leading the research. The prospect of finally changing an old approach to tooth repair has him optimistic.
"The dentin produced by stimulating stem cells with Tideglusib integrates itself completely within the tooth, so there's no risk of the filling coming out, which is a big problem with the current methods, which haven't changed much in the past 100 years," Sharpe told NBC News.
He sees this as an ideal method to naturally treat cavities in a way that not only offers protection of the pulp, but also a restoration of the dentin.
It's not difficult to imagine the dental community sharing Sharpe's enthusiasm in this new research. After many years of relying on cement, the prospect of being able to rely on the tooth's natural ability to repair itself could finally provide dentists with a game-changing improvement in their mission to fight cavities.
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