New York, April 13 : If you dread paying a visit to the dentist, here's some good news. Researchers have designed a convenient and natural product that could rebuild teeth and cure cavities without today's costly and uncomfortable treatments.
The new biogenic dental product uses the body's own natural tooth-forming proteins to rebuild tooth enamel and treat dental cavities, according to the study published in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering.
"Remineralisation guided by peptides is a healthy alternative to current dental health care," said lead author Mehmet Sarikaya, Professor at the University of Washington, Seattle.
"Peptide-enabled formulations will be simple and would be implemented in over-the-counter or clinical products," Sarikaya added.
Although tooth decay is relatively harmless in its earliest stages, once the cavity progresses through the tooth's enamel, serious health concerns arise.
If left untreated, it may result in severe tooth loss and cause adverse consequences on the remaining teeth, which also includes life-threatening conditions.
According to the World Health Organisation, dental cavities affect nearly every age group and they are accompanied by serious health concerns.
To find a way to repair the tooth enamel, the researchers captured the essence of amelogenin -- a protein crucial to forming the hard crown enamel -- and designed amelogenin-derived peptides that help in restoring the mineral structure found in native tooth enamel.
The bio-inspired repair process restores the mineral structure found in native tooth enamel, the study said.
"These peptides are proven to bind onto tooth surfaces and recruit calcium and phosphate ions," said Deniz Yucesoy, a co-author and a doctoral student at the University of Washington.
The peptide-enabled technology allows the deposition of 10 to 50 micrometers of new enamel on the teeth after each use.
Once fully developed, the researchers believe that the technology can be used in both private and public health settings, in biomimetic toothpaste, gels, solutions and composites as a safe alternative to existing dental procedures and treatments.