A team of scientists from Zhejiang University have created a gel that causes tooth enamel to regrow.
Tooth enamel is fragile. It coats and protects the surface of the teeth, but it's prone to degredation, especially when exposed to the acids in many foods and drinks. When the enamel fades away, the resulting cavities are filled with resins and ceramics. Unfortunately the fillings can degenerate and, with tooth decay being one of the most common conditions in the world, there has been a lot of effort made to find a way to regenerate enamel.
Now, a team of scientists from Zhejiang University School of Medicine are developing a gel that will stimulate the enamel to repair itself. The gel is a mixture of calcium and phosphate ions—two minerals found in enamel—into an alcoholic solution with the organic compound trimethylamine and applied it to damaged tooth samples. Over the course of 48 hours, the gel helped to create a new layer of enamel about 3 micrometers thick. Early results look promising and they hope to begin human clinical trials in the next two years.
“Our newly regenerated enamel has the same structure and similar mechanical properties as native enamel,” said Dr Zhaoming Liu, a co-author of the study which was published in the journal Science Advances this week.
“We hope to realize tooth enamel regrowth without using fillings which contain totally different materials and we hope, if all goes smoothly, to start trials in people within one to two years.”
Not only might it be possible to use the gel for the repair of decayed parts of a tooth, but it could be a preventative technique used to regenerate the protective enamel so decay is never again a problem.