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Doing away with the dentist’s drill by helping teeth regenerate themselves

By

August 23, 2011

A new peptide-based fluid could soon be providing dentist's with a pain-free way of fillin...

A new peptide-based fluid could soon be providing dentist's with a pain-free way of filling teeth

The fear of having a mechanical drill crammed into one's mouth is enough to keep many people from regularly seeing a dentist. New technology developed by researchers at the University of Leeds that is based on knowledge of how the tooth forms in the first place could soon be providing a pain-free way of tackling the first signs of tooth decay. It uses a peptide-based fluid that is literally painted onto the damaged tooth's surface to stimulate the tooth to regenerate itself.

The fluid developed by researchers in the University of Leeds' School of Chemistry contains a peptide known as P 11-4 that will assemble into fibers under certain conditions. When applied to a tooth, the fluid seeps into the micro-pores that form when the acid produced by bacteria in plaque dissolves the mineral in the teeth.

Unlike another drill-free cavity solution called the DMG cavity infiltration system that uses a gel to open up the pores of a cavity so it can be filled with a resin, once inside the micro-pores the peptide-based fluid spontaneously forms a gel that provides a "scaffold" that attracts calcium and regenerates the tooth's mineral from within to provide natural and pain-free repair of the damaged tooth.

"This may sound too good to be true, but we are essentially helping acid-damaged teeth to regenerate themselves. It is a totally natural non-surgical repair process and is entirely pain-free too," said Professor Jennifer Kirkham, from the University of Leeds Dental Institute, who has led development of the new technique.

The researchers recently took the technique out of the laboratory and tested it on a small group of adults whose teeth showed the first signs of decay. The researchers claim the results from this small trial have shown that P 11-4 can indeed reverse damage and successfully regenerate the tooth tissue.

"The results of our tests so far are extremely promising," said Professor Paul Brunton, who is overseeing the patient testing at the University of Leeds Dental Institute. "If these results can be repeated on a larger patient group, then I have no doubt whatsoever that in two to three years time this technique will be available for dentists to use in their daily practice."

"The main reason that people don't go to the dentist regularly is fear. If we can offer a treatment that is completely non-invasive, that doesn't involve a mechanical drill, then we can change that perceived link between dental treatment and pain. This really is more than filling without drilling, this is a novel approach that enables the patients to keep their natural teeth!"

The University of Leeds study is being funded by Switzerland-based start-up credentis AG, which has licensed the technology and plans to introduce P 11-4 to dentists worldwide.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
14 Comments

At last! The answer to rip-off dentists! Ever see a dentist with a nasty old car? Thought not. Last one I visited (in Wales) wittered on about how much his four divorces had cost him, there were way too many pretty women in white coats in reception and a Porche outside. He cooked up a five thousand pound treatment program, then refused to commence it unless I paid half up front.

No thank you!

I got treated in Glasgow for twenty nine pounds. Good old UK National Health Service. Now there's an invention worth celebrating: half the price per person compared to USA and treats EVERYBODY.

Seriously though, this treatment (if effective) would be adopted by the UK NHS because it saves money. For-profit dentists would not offer it because it loses them the opportunity to charge fees.

Doug MacLeod
24th August, 2011 @ 03:45 am PDT

Dentists and doctors in the UK get paid way to much for what they do ... especially when compared to what they get paid abroad. I was only told yesterday that UK Docs get paid 3x as much as those in Norway ... thats a serious difference, and probably why we have an immigration influx in this country from all corners of the world!

Deliverables based on actual performanace would be a start. Preventative maintenance should be a target of what should be measurable, of where the state is saving time, effort, money from repeatative appointments. If the state saves money, then taxes go down, and real patients that are in severe pain or a dire situation can be addressed properly and quickly.

Dentistry, is not rocket science, thus, one should not be charged skyrocket prices!!!

Harpal Sahota
24th August, 2011 @ 06:41 am PDT

Yup, maybe people will start to wake up, haha yeah right, who am I kidding? If you really take a look around, MOST professions, aren't professions to begin with lol. We have problems in this world that need solving and this is where professions come from. Guess who causes these problems . . I'll leave that up to you guys to figure out. Anyway, there have been studies for years, showing that teeth can be re-mineralized, but then we wouldn't need dentists, which would mean, thousands of people a year going into other fields. We could have cad electric cars, eons ago, but then we would virtually never need mechanics, that's more people going into other fields or not working. When law is REALLY looked into, one will find that a huge percentage of crime is just entrapment, manipulation and framing in order to keep the system going. So in actuality we need very few lawyers and even fewer police. This is the reason for the steady rise in "everything becoming a crime" to the point where the people can't live without being watched (hence the cameras on every corner, building lobby, restaurant establishment, clothing store along with security detail and earpieces and everything lol. These are the sad facts of the matrix. God bless you all, things are going to get nasty around these here parts.

V
24th August, 2011 @ 07:50 am PDT

unfortunately, dentists will still have to remove the decayed tooth and the mush of bacteria before they fill it with anything, that's what the drill is for.

For light demineralization of the tooth (bright white spots), pre-cavity, sounds plausible

Christian Lassen
24th August, 2011 @ 11:16 am PDT

How wonderful! This is an outstanding development. So many patients fear the drill alone. I am pleased that an atraumatic method to address tooth decay is on the horizon.

Alayna Smiley
24th August, 2011 @ 11:50 am PDT

I have to disagree with Doug. I'm sure dentists would love to offer this alternative and charge a small fortune for it. Standard dentistry for so much; better, more modern pain-free dentistry for twice as much. There was nothing in here to suggest that it would be cheap.

It makes perfect sense that dentists will actually charge more for this than standard practice. Within 10 or 20 years, it will probably replace standard drills and fills.

Dave Andrews
24th August, 2011 @ 12:51 pm PDT

I've been reading this gimmick for the last 10 years. Each time reported the discovered technique will available to public with 2-3 years. Duh! where it is?

wow2010
24th August, 2011 @ 03:10 pm PDT

Christian, this is not for abscessed teeth. This is for the earliest stages of decay, long before it has completely penetrated the enamel through to the dentin. Basically for early stage cavities that are currently treated with supplemental fluoride and amorphous calcium phospate, not drilled and filled.

Gadgeteer
24th August, 2011 @ 04:22 pm PDT

we wouldn't need dentists, which would mean, thousands of people a year going into other fields. We could have had electric cars eons ago, but then we would virtually never need mechanics, that's more people going into other fields or not working.

Foyjur Razzak Tuhin
24th August, 2011 @ 08:34 pm PDT

This will soon be an ingredient of toothpaste, That's where the money is

jochair
24th August, 2011 @ 10:42 pm PDT

"The main reason that people don't go to the dentist regularly is fear."

that and MONEY. Dentistry is a luxury to a significant percentage of Americans.

Alice Gray Marks
25th August, 2011 @ 11:29 pm PDT

It is not just fear. I suffer from COPD and am to tolerate dental work as I need to pursue my lips to maintain positive airway pressure and the dust and spray can kick off a real attack. This solution will be a great alternative to extraction - my only choice right now.

idwian
26th August, 2011 @ 06:58 am PDT

Great news, I will be talking about it to some of my friends. One of them was a local Dental Health Regional Director, now retired. I am sure early detection will be a key benefit with this remarkable intervention. Rgular check-ups a must for growing children.

Alastair Carnegie
27th August, 2011 @ 08:32 pm PDT

Great news I'm loving it things we need keep improving and delivery asap many plp need this !

Joselito El Aktivo
25th April, 2012 @ 03:42 pm PDT
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