Researchers have invented a material, which could help people regrow their own tooth enamel naturally.
This is the findings of a new study that is published in the journal ‘Science Advances’.
The new development, which could be tested in humans a few years’ away, could save thousands of people the misery of a trip to the dentist for a filling.
The breakthrough is in using ultra-small clusters of calcium phosphate to form the correct structure of tooth enamel, which looks like fish scales.
When this was done on human teeth, a test using a thin probe found the regrown enamel was as hard as ordinary tooth enamel.
Over two days, it grew to almost three micrometres thick, which is about one-thirtieth the thickness of a human hair, the ‘mailonline’ reported.
Dental fillings are artificial substances that are used to fill in the holes or gaps in the enamel of decayed, broken or damaged teeth, occasioned by the consumption of too much sugar.
The hole is plugged using a cement or resin filling, which can lead to a potential infection or need to be replaced several years later when it becomes loose.
The ‘’mailonline’ reported that for over a decade, scientists have been trying to replace fillings by making tooth enamel regrow, by providing it with extra calcium phosphate.
The new enamel however did not have the right ‘fish-scale’ structure and consequently was too soft.
However, scientists have used extra tiny clusters of calcium phosphate, which organise into hard enamel within hours.
It has not yet been proven to work in the mouth.
A co-author of the study from Zhejiang University in China, Dr. Zhaoming Liu, said:“Our newly regenerated enamel has the same structure and similar mechanical properties as native enamel.
“We hope to realise tooth enamel regrowth without using fillings, which contain totally different materials and we hope, if all goes smoothly, to start trials in people within one to two years.”
The report quoted the Scientific Adviser for the British Dental Association, Professor Damien Walmsley as saying: “Regrowing teeth is the holy grail for dentistry, not least because it is so complex.
“We would love to see the end of fillings and this is one step closer to scientists being able to regrow teeth, although this is the start of the journey and there is still a long way to go.
“For now, we would like to see people preventing fillings by visiting their dentist, brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and reducing the amount of sugar they eat.”
Tooth enamel is the hardest part of the human body but it cannot repair itself, making dental decay one of the most common diseases in the world.