A team of researchers at King’s College London have developed a new method of stimulating living stem cells in tooth pulp to renew by using a drug normally used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Although this is not strictly speaking a natural home remedy, the tooth does naturally heal itself.
When a tooth is infected or suffers trauma, the soft inner pulp of the tooth is often exposed and infected. To seal the tooth pulp, a thin band of dentine is naturally produced to protect the tooth from infection, but this is not sufficient to repair large cavities effectively.
Dentists currently fill holes in teeth and treat these larger cavities by using human made fillings or cements, such as silicon based products and calcium. This cement stays in the tooth and never disintegrates, resulting in the normal mineral level of the tooth never being completely restored.
Scientists from the Dental Institute at King’s College London have however published a paper in Scientific Reports that shows a proven way to stimulate the stem cells found in the pulp of the tooth to generate new dentine, the mineral material that protects the tooth. This is especially valuable in large cavities and could potentially reduce the need for cements or fillings.
The biological approach is novel and could result in teeth using their natural ability to repair large cavities, rather than using fillings or cements. Fillings and cements are often prone to infections and might need replacing a number of times. When infection occurs or fillings fail, dentists have no option but to remove and fill a larger area that what was originally affected. It may eventually be required to extract the tooth after multiple treatments.
All of these issues could be eliminated, as this new method encourages natural tooth repair, providing a more natural solution for patients.
It is significant that one of the molecules that the team used to stimulate the renewal of the stem cells included Tideglusib. Tideglusib has been used in clinical trials previously to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders. This presents a great opportunity to fast track the treatment into practice.
The team used biodegradable collagen sponges to deliver the treatment and placed low quantities of small molecule glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) on the tooth. The result was that the sponge degraded with time and was replaced with new dentine. This lead to complete, natural repair. Collagen sponges are clinically approved as well as commercially available, again creating the possibility of the treatment being adopted and used in dental clinics fast.
Professor Paul Sharpe from King’s College London, the lead author of the study noted that the simplicity of this approach makes the treatment ideal as a clinical dental product for the treating of large cavities naturally by restoring dentine, as well as providing pulp protection.
He added that since the team used a drug that has already been tested in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease, this provides a real opportunity to get the dental treatment into clinics quickly.