Farewell to fill­ings as sci­en­tists find a way to re­grow tooth enamel

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Sarah Knap­ton Sci­ence edi­tor

THE end of den­tal fill­ings is on the hori­zon af­ter sci­en­tists dis­cov­ered how to re­grow tooth enamel. Un­til now, at­tempts to recre­ate the outer pro­tec­tive layer have proved elu­sive.

Tooth enamel is the hardest tis­sue in the hu­man body but can­not re­pair it­self when dam­aged, leav­ing peo­ple ex­posed to cav­i­ties and re­quir­ing fill­ings or a tooth ex­trac­tion. But sci­en­tists at the Zhe­jiang Univer­sity School of Medicine in Hangzhou, China, have found that mix­ing cal­cium and phos­phate ions – min­er­als found in enamel – with the chem­i­cal tri­ethyl­amine in an al­co­hol solution, causes enamel to grow with the same struc­ture as in teeth.

When ap­plied to hu­man teeth, it re­pairs the enamel layer to a thick­ness of around 2.7 mi­crome­tres and achieves the same struc­ture and ori­en­ta­tion of nat­u­ral enamel within 48 hours.

Writ­ing in the jour­nal Sci­ence Ad­vances, Changyu Shao, from the chem­istry fac­ulty at Zhe­jiang Univer­sity, said: “The layer newly re­grown by rem­iner­al­i­sa­tion can be in­te­grated into na­tive enamel such that re­pair would be per­ma­nent and this may be de­vel­oped as an ef­fec­tive cure for enamel ero­sion.

“We be­lieve this will be de­vel­oped as a promis­ing enamel re­pair ma­te­rial for den­tal ap­pli­ca­tions in the fu­ture.”

Com­ment­ing on the Chi­nese claims, Prof Damien Walm­s­ley, sci­en­tific adviser for the Bri­tish Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion, said: “This is ex­cit­ing but it’s still a very long way off.

“A lot of other things need to come to­gether be­fore we can suc­cess­fully grow back a tooth. I think we’ll even­tu­ally get there in 10 to 20 years.”

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