Science-- there's something for everyone

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fixing teeth without drilling

Here’s a research project everyone can get behind.  Scientists from the University of Leeds have synthesized a peptide (P11-4) that can repair the tiny lesions caused by tooth decay.  When spread over teeth, the peptide coating not only protects the enamel from further decay, but even seems to recruit calcium and other minerals to the site to rebuild the teeth.

The tests were done on teeth that had been previously extracted by orthodontists.  The scientists created caries-like lesions by exposing the teeth to acid solutions.  They then painted the tooth surfaces with P11-4 peptides.  After P11-4 was allowed to soak into the teeth, the teeth were subjected to further rounds of acid treatment to see whether the lesions would grow.

The in vitro results were extremely promising.  Not only did the demineralization stop, but P11-4 also served as a scaffold for remineralization.  Needless to say, the in vivo results may differ.  The microenvironment of a tooth inside a human mouth is not going replicate that of a controlled mineral bath.  However, if the results do pan out, dentists may one day paint peptide solutions on our teeth instead of drilling.