Chinese scientists have invented a gel that regenerates enamel on its own, and that invention could save people from filling their teeth, writes the “New Scientist” portal.
Enamel is a protective layer on the outside of the tooth. Its thickness and firmness can be reduced by chewing and malnutrition, leading to the formation of caries that must be repaired with fillings to prevent tooth decay.
Because fillings are made of materials such as metal, porcelain and resin, they often loosen, which can lead to caries again.
To solve this problem, chemist Ruikang Tang and his colleagues from Zhejiang University in China produced a gel containing calcium and phosphate, which build natural enamel, to try to encourage teeth to self-repair.
They tested the gel by applying it to already extracted teeth of people who had previously been damaged by acid. They then placed the teeth in containers with a liquid that mimics the conditions that exist in the mouth and kept them there for about 48 hours.
During that period, the gel acted and stimulated the growth of new enamel.
This new surface layer was only three micrometers thick, which is about 400 times thinner than undamaged enamel, but Tang believes that the gel should be much more effective if applied more than once, and in that case could encourage the formation of a thicker layer of enamel.
Scientists are currently testing the gel on mice and hope to be able to test it clinically on humans soon.
“We need to make sure that the chemicals in the gel are safe and that new enamel can form in the mouth even when people eat and drink,” Tang said.