Fillings no more? New stem cell method could repair teeth


Dentists can now restore teeth using stem cells rather than man-made fillings, new research has revealed.

Silicon and calcium-based products are some of the most common methods currently used to fill large holes in teeth.

But now, experts at King’s College London have discovered a new method of stimulating living stem cells using an Alzheimer’s drug, which can help to repair large cavities.

This could help to transform how damaged tooth pump is restored following infection or trauma.

Produced by scientists from King’s College London’s Dental Institute, the paper explains how the method generates new dentine – the naturally-produced mineral that protects teeth.

Currently, man-made fillings that treat cavities remain in the tooth and do not crumble, meaning these mineral levels are never restored.

Patients are often forced to replace them several times and, after multiple treatments, sometimes the tooth itself has to be extracted.

However this new approach means teeth will instead repair cavities using their natural ability.

With biodegradable collagen sponges in hand, the researchers applied low doses of molecule glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) to the tooth.

The sponge degraded over time, while new dentine took its place – leading to natural repair.

And the sponges are also clinically approved, making it perfect for use in dental practices.

Professor Paul Sharpe, lead author of the study, said the simplicity of the method makes it ‘ideal’ as a dental product for the treatment of cavities – by providing pulp protection and dentine restoration.

Interestingly, one of the molecules used by the team to stimulate the stem cells was Tideglusib – which is also used to treat disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Mr Sharpe added that its use in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease could boost the chances of the treatment getting into clinics quickly.
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