Tooth fillings may become a thing of the past after London scientists discovered a way to fill cavities naturally using an Alzheimer’s drug.
Dentists currently use man-made cements or fillings from calcium or silicon-based products to fill in tooth holes that would otherwise become infected.
But by using this outdated method the tooth is never completely restored and the cement remains inside the tooth without disintegrating.
When a cavity is created, stem cells in the body create a thin layer of material, known as dentine, which seals in the tooth pulp but does not repair a large cavity effectively.
But dental scientists at Kings College London have found a way to stimulate the dentine to fill in a large cavity without the need for a man-made filling.
The drug, Tideglusib, previously used to treat neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s, could now offer a natural solution for patients with tooth cavities.
Professor Paul Sharpe said: “The simplicity of our approach makes it ideal as a clinical dental product for the natural treatment of large cavities, by providing both pulp protection and restoring dentine.”
Professor Sharpe and his colleagues used biodegradable collagen sponges to apply low doses of small molecule glycogen synthase kinase to the tooth and found that as the sponge disintegrated, dentine replaced it, leading to a completely natural repair.
Collagen sponges are commercially available and clinically approved, enabling dental clinics across the country to swiftly adopt the practice.
Prof Sharpe added: “In addition, using a drug that has already been tested in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease provides a real opportunity to get this dental treatment quickly into clinics.”
The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.