When it comes to cavities, the only thing left to do is drill the tooth, remove the decay, and fill it with some sort of metal, plastic or glass material. Or, are there other options? Researchers are finding that there may be a drug to help the once-doomed tooth to regenerate and grow back – yes, even after a cavity. Scroll down to know more how they can regenerate teeth in the future.
Most tooth decay occurs when food remnants begin to break down in the mouth, leaving acids on the tooth. These acids erode the enamel which covers the tooth, leaving the tooth vulnerable to more and more decay.
But now the common dental solution of drilling and filling may be replaced with a savvier treatment. Research has found that there exists a cell-to-cell form of communication called the “Wnt signaling pathway.” This pathway is crucial for the development of stem cells and tissue repair throughout the body.
So, researchers asked if they could stimulate the Wnt signaling pathway in teeth to stimulate the growth of stem cells within the dental pulp. And turns out, there is a drug that may kickstart a tooth’s regenerative process.
In this study, scientists began by drilling holes in the teeth of mice to imitate cavities in human teeth. Then, they soaked sponges in a drug, called tideglusib, which is believed to stimulate stem cell growth, and they applied these sponges to the mice teeth. (Tideglusib may also be useful in treating neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease.)
Within four to six weeks, researchers noted that the teeth returned to “their former intact state”, suggesting that this regenerative treatment may be useful for humans in the near future, too.