This Incredible New Dental Product Could Make Fillings And Root Canals A Thing Of The Past

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Few things provoke quite as much anxiety and dread as a trip to the dentist, particularly when a filling or – worse – a root canal is involved. In fact, it's such an unpleasant experience that many people choose to avoid it altogether – a third of Americans skip their annual dental appointment and more than a quarter of adults have untreated tooth decay.

The good news is that invasive dental treatments could soon become a thing of the past. Researchers from the University of Washington (UW) have designed an easy-to-apply product that can treat dental cavities and rebuild tooth enamel without the need for surgery. The study has been published in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering.

So, how does it work?

Essentially, it involves a process called remineralization. 

“Remineralization guided by peptides is a healthy alternative to current dental health care,” 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 at UW, said in a statement.

The team took inspiration from a group of enamel-building proteins produced naturally in the body (amelogenins) and grew their own amelogenin-derived peptides. These are short chains of amino acids responsible for manufacturing minerals that stiffen and strengthen the tooth's hard crown enamel – and the new product's special ingredient.

“These peptides are proven to bind onto tooth surfaces and recruit calcium and phosphate ions,” explained Deniz Yucesoy, co-author and doctoral student at UW.

During the study, one application of the peptide formula produced 10 to 50 micrometers of new enamel, outperforming both the fluoride-only and fluoride-peptide combined formulas. 

Researchers say the product is completely natural and is expected to be safe for use in both adults and children.

Best of all, “peptide-enabled formulations will be simple and would be implemented in over-the-counter or clinical products,” Sarikaya explained. This means that once fully developed and approved, the product can be added to toothpaste, gels, solutions, and composites so that people can use amelogenin-derived peptides to rebuild and fortify tooth enamel as part of a daily oral health program. 

The Dentist Song in "The Little Shop of Horrors", confirming what many people have long suspected. Keith Errington/YouTube

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