The end of fillings could be on the horizon after scientists found a way to successfully grow back tooth enamel. Although many laboratories have attempted to recreate the outer protective layer of teeth, the complex structure of overlapping microscopic rods has proved elusive.
When people eat too much sugar they get holes in their teeth where the enamel coating the outside is decayed.
The only answer is in the dentist’s chair, where the hole is plugged using a cement or resin filling, which can lead to a potential infection or need to be replaced several years later when it becomes loose.
Tooth enamel is the hardest tissue in the body and it cannot repair itself like most other parts of our body. Scientists have now discovered a method by which its complex structure can be reproduced and the enamel essentially “grown” back.
The team behind the research say the materials are cheap and can be prepared on a large scale. “After intensive discussion with dentists, we believe that this new method can be widely used in future,” said Dr Zhaoming Liu, co-author of the research from Zhejiang University in China.
Dr Sherif Elsharkawy, an expert in prosthodontics at King’s College London who was not involved in the work, praised the research and said he found the approach very exciting.
“The method is simple, but it needs to be validated clinically,” he said, adding that it could be several years before the method be used in dental practices.