Email is the hardest tissue in the body, but it can not repair itself. Now researchers have found a way of reproducing its complex structure and fundamentally “growing” the enamel.
The study team claims that the materials are inexpensive and large-scale. Dr Zhaoming Liu, co-author of the studies from Zhejiang University in China, said “After extensive debate with the dentists, we think the new technique could be commonly used in the future.
Tooth decay is very frequent: around 2,4 billion individuals live with permanent teeth of caries globally, with 486 million kids having milk teeth decaying.
At current, materials such as resin, metal alloys, amalgam and ceramics are used to repair damaged tooth enamel, but are not optimal.
“There is still no good resin-based material on enamel and it will get loose after five years,” Liu said.
Although researchers have pursued a number of different methods for several years, they have had issues–not least because the complicated structure of natural tooth enamel can hardly be replicated.
The scientists behind the recent research, released in the journal Science Advances, claim that they have been working to tackle this issue with an approach to producing small calcium phosphate clusters, the principal component of enamel, which is just 1.5 nanometers in diameter – far lower than previously used.
The clusters were prepared by preparing a drug called triethylamine in the presence of which they could prevent clustering.
The team used crystalline hydroxyapatite comparable to natural enamel to test their clusters. The findings showed that the clusters were attached to this material and created a tighter layer than the earlier, bigger clusters.
The team claims this is crucial because it implies that when the fresh layer becomes crystalline over time it continuously expands the underlying structure, not forming many crystalline areas.
The team then applied their clusters to acid-exposed human teeth. They found that the clusters created a crystalline, about 2.7 micron dense layer within 48 hours, with its complicated, fish-scalable structure.
The reconsidered enamel was comparable to the natural, undamaged enamel in strength and wear.
Dr. Sherif Elsharkawy, who was not involved in the research at King’s College, praised the research and said he found the approach very exciting.
He adds that it may take several years before dentistry can use the technique. “The technique is easy, but it needs to be validated clinically.”
Elsharkawy said that cavities should be scaled up to 0.5 to 2 mm thick. While Liu and his peers agree that the layer’s thickness is limited, they work to enhance this. Liu said the team hoped to use it in one to two years ‘ time in a human trial.