Dental experts are trialling a new gel that regenerates teeth within a month.
A team of French scientists are investigating a peptide which, when embedded in a soft gel or thin film, can be placed next to a cavity to encourage cells inside teeth to regenerate.
That’s according to a new study in the journal ACS Nano, which believes the technology is the first of its kind.
The gel – or thin film – may scrap the need to fill cavities or drill deep into the root canal of an infected tooth, helping dental phobic-patients everywhere.
Nadia Benkirane-Jessel, a scientist at the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale and a co-author of the paper, says: ‘It’s not like toothpaste which prevent cavities. Here, we are really trying to control cavities (after they develop).’
She suggests that, instead of a drill, a quick dab of gel or a thin film against an infected tooth could heal teeth from within.
The gel or thin film contains a peptide known as MSH, or melanocyte-stimulating hormone.
Previous experiments, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that MSH encourages bone regeneration and French scientists considered that if the MSH were applied to teeth, it should help healing as well.
To test their theory, they applied either a film or gel, both of which contained MSH, to cavity-filled mice teeth.
After about one month, the cavities had disappeared, the paper said.
Nadia Benkirane-Jessel cautions that the MSH-containing films or gels only treat cavities; they don’t prevent them – and regenerating a tooth from within would only be useful in a relatively small number of cases.
Numerous clinical trials over several years will have to be completed before the MSH-containing gels or films are available to treat cavities in humans.