Treating Cavities

New Research For Regenerating Tooth Decay

Dental cavity filling
Do you hate getting cavities filled? Almost everybody suffers from tooth decay at some point in their life, which can lead to cavities and more tooth decay. When a cavity goes untreated, it can cause an infection in the center of your tooth, which can lead to complicated dental treatments or even tooth loss. Fortunately, for those of you out there that hate getting cavities filled, researchers are now studying a new way to treat cavities that doesn’t involve fillings.

How Traditional Fillings Treat Dental Cavities

When a tooth undergoes decay or gets infected, excess bacteria creates acid that eat tiny holes in the outer layer and eventually inner layers of the tooth. Decay spots and loss of mineral in the inner dentine layer of your teeth causes a cavity. Unlike enamel decay, dentine decay cannot restore itself.

Dental fillings are probably the most grueling, yet necessary, experience at the dentist. Dental fillings restore your cavity by filling in the decay with materials. The most common types of dental fillings are gold, porcelain, composite resins (also known as tooth-colored fillings), and amalgams. During a cavity filling, we use a drill to remove bacteria and decay around in the cavity, then fill the tooth with one of the above materials.

How the New Alzheimer’s Drug Could Heal Tooth Decay

Dentists and researchers in London are looking for a new treatment to regenerate the tooth after it is decayed, which would in turn reduce the need for fillings. The drug would work by activating stem cells in the pulp of the teeth, which promotes their natural ability to heal themselves.

In the research, they found that the drug actually worked at repairing small crack and holes in the dentine level of the tooth, the level below the enamel. The drug, tidesglusib, has been used as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s. This sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? That's because there is a catch. The catch is that it has only been tested on mice.

To test the drug, the researcher drilled holes in the mice’s teeth, then they soaked a small collagen sponge in the drug, placed it in the holes of the mice’s teeth, and sealed it off with a dental adhesive. They checked the teeth several weeks laters and found that the sponge was replaced with dentine.

With that said, if the drug were to work on humans, it could help prevent larger cavities from forming and the need of traditional fillings. Restoring the natural dentine structure of the tooth would be much more preferable than traditional fillings, since traditional fillings can sometimes weaken your tooth.

While fillings work to prevent further decay, restoring the tooth with living tissue would be the superior option. Unfortunately for patients that hate the drill, it probably would not eliminate the need to drill the tooth, since the drill is the most imperative part to removing sections of decay. However, it would eliminate the need to use fillings.

This study could be big news for the dental community, but at this point, it is not known if this cavity filling method would work on human teeth, since our cavities are much larger. Now, the research is still in its trial period, being tested on rats with larger teeth than mice. If this study goes well, they will test the drug on patients. We already know that the Alzheimer’s drug is safe for human use, so it could be hitting the dental scene sooner rather than later. As dentists, we are always looking for new ways to preserve natural teeth and keep them healthy, so this treatment option could be an easy and accessible way to fix traumas and dental decay.