- Dental cavities are a common cause of toothache
- They are currently treated using fillings, or in really bad cases, tooth extractions
- A new treatment that is being investigated could stimulate the cells of the damaged teeth to grow and fill up the cavity, simulating a natural repair
A research team from the Dental Institute King's College London have suggested a possible new treatment for dental cavities in their paper published in the Scientific Reports.
The treatment, which has been tested in mice, could possibly bring about healing in a way that could closely replicate the normal healing process in the damaged tooth.
A toothache can cause excruciating pain, which is often difficult to forget. And despite proper dental care, a cavity at some point in life is almost unavoidable. The inner nerve endings get exposed when the outer dentine gets eroded, resulting in severe pain.
Possible Alternative to the Use of Fillers for Large Dental Cavities
The research team used three small molecule glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) antagonists including tideglusib to repair experimentally damaged mice teeth. Tideglusib is being investigated for its possible use in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, a totally unrelated neurological condition that causes memory loss and mainly affects elderly individuals.
The GSK-3 antagonists stimulated the stem cells (immature cells with the ability to regenerate) of the tooth pulp, and healing of the dental cavity took place in a way that resembled more commonly the natural healing process of the tooth. Collagen sponge was used to deliver the medication, which disintegrated in due course.
The research team feels that since tideglusib is already undergoing testing in human beings (though for a different indication), several aspects like safety would have already been studied, thereby allowing the new treatment to come into the market faster. Collagen sponge is already available in the market, which could further make the process faster. However, this study was conducted on mice teeth, and is still quite some time away before it can be widely adopted for the treatment of dental cavities.
- 'Promotion of natural tooth repair by small molecule GSK3 antagonists' by Vitor Neves, Rebecca Babb, Dhivya Chandrasekaran and Paul T Sharpe. Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 39654 (2017) doi:10.1038/srep39654