Peptide-Based Dental Product May Rebuild Cavities

It’s amazing that the drill method is still prevalent in 2018. New approaches that use substances such as peptides and lasers are the innovations of the future.

Researchers at the University of Washington have designed a convenient and natural product that uses proteins to rebuild tooth enamel and treat dental cavities.

The research finding was first published in ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering.

“Remineralization guided by peptides is a healthy alternative to current dental health care,” said lead author Mehmet Sarikaya, professor of materials science and engineering and adjunct professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Department of Oral Health Sciences.

The new biogenic dental products can — in theory — rebuild teeth and cure cavities without today’s costly and uncomfortable treatments.

“Peptide-enabled formulations will be simple and would be implemented in over-the-counter or clinical products,” Sarikaya said.

Cavities are more than just a nuisance. According to the World Health Organization, dental cavities affect nearly every age group and they are accompanied by serious health concerns. Additionally, direct and indirect costs of treating dental cavities and related diseases have been a huge economic burden for individuals and health care systems.

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Taking inspiration from the body’s own natural tooth-forming proteins, the UW team has come up with a way to repair the tooth enamel. The researchers accomplished this by capturing the essence of amelogenin — a protein crucial to forming the hard crown enamel — to design amelogenin-derived peptides that biomineralize and are the key active ingredient in the new technology. The bioinspired repair process restores the mineral structure found in native tooth enamel.

“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 UW.

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 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. The technology enables people to rebuild and strengthen tooth enamel on a daily basis as part of a preventive dental care routine. It is expected to be safe for use by adults and children.

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New “High-Tech” Dental Treatments May be Able to Repair Teeth

This is encouraging new research, although not enough of the details have been finalized yet. The advanced treatments will hopefully be low cost so that reducing human plight can take precedence over increasing corporate profits.

From fluoride toothpaste to dental sealants, science has brought all sorts of tools for fighting tooth decay — and yet 91% of Americans between 20 and 64 years of age are affected by dental caries.

But provocative new research suggests that cell-stimulating medications can “trick” teeth into repairing themselves. If these “small molecule” drugs work as well as scientists think they will, we may be on the cusp of a new era in which dental tissue and even entire teeth can be regrown.

And this is only one of several new approaches that hold promise for tooth regeneration.

STEM CELLS TO THE RESCUE

Right now, when dentists spot caries, they drill out the decayed material and fill the hole with a cement-like substance called amalgam. But amalgam can fail or even fall out. That can bring more discomfort and a trip back to the dentist.

This could all change. The research shows the drugs can coax stem cells within the dental pulp — the soft material deep within teeth that’s filled with nerves and blood vessels — into regrowing enough bony tissue (dentin) to fill the cavity.

Researchers are especially excited about Tideglusib, a low-cost experimental drug with an established safety record. They think it could be fast-tracked through clinical trials for use to stop tooth decay (Tideglusib is currently being tested for use against Alzheimer’s disease).

“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,” says Dr. Paul Sharpe, professor of stem biology at Kings College London and leader of the research. “There’s a big need for biology to impact upon dentistry and drag it out of the 19th century.”

So far Tideglusib has been studied only in rats, but Sharpe expects to start human trials within the next year. He hopes that it can eventually replace amalgam, which contains mercury. “Mercury works and it lasts for a long time, but having that in your mouth is a concern,” Sharpe says.

MAYBE LASERS

Meanwhile, scientists at the University at Buffalo in New York are exploring an even more radical way to regrow teeth. A team led by Dr. Praveen Arany, assistant professor of oral biology at the university, is testing the use of low-power laser light to stimulate tooth regeneration.

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Arany has found that shining laser light directly on the remaining pulp can stimulate stem cells in the pulp to produce new dentin. This would still need to be capped, but is likely to be far more resilient.

“By regenerating the tooth so the pulp is coated in natural dentin again, it doesn’t have the same risk of material failure,” Arany says. “Our bodies have the ability to heal our tissues through their own stem cells, so figuring out how to kick-start this process is a dramatically different and more effective way of doing dentistry.”