Our mouth catches bacteria all the time and some of these may reside on our teeth. These bacteria secrete acidic compounds which compromise the tooth’s defense over time, eating it away until nothing’s left. As the dentine – the bony tissue that makes up the bulk of the white part of the tooth – disappears, the tooth pulp gets exposed which may cause further problems when infected.
Cavities need to be closed to avoid infection, which is why we visit the dentist to plug them with dental fillings. Dental fillings are made of artificial cement mixture composed mainly of calcium or silicon compounds. These decompose for a long time, maybe even outlasting you. It might be a good thing because you won’t have to visit your dentist again to get it redone. This can work against you, though, as it inhibits your tooth’s natural regeneration of minerals, preventing it from being completely restored.
Amalgam and composite fillings may also cause some side effects like biting difficulties. They may wear out over time, releasing minute amounts of mercury and similarly toxic compounds. They are also quite pricey and may be aesthetically unattractive. Patients may experience any of the these because dental fillings are artificial substitutes.
The recent findings in using stem cells to regrow teeth light a new path to get us a better and definitely natural alternative to dental fillings.
Several studies from known academic institutes show that stem cell therapy can be used as a natural alternative to healing tooth cavities caused by infections or trauma. One particular experiment done by a group of scientists at King’s College London has been published in the Scientific Reports journal, showing how they utilized a drug used to treat Alzheimer’s to repair tooth cavities.
The treatment is carried out by plugging the cavity with an organic collagen sponge which contains small amounts of glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3). The sponge naturally disintegrates over time, allowing it to be replaced by the regenerating dentine. The collagen sponge kills two birds with one stone by protecting the tooth pulp from risks of infection while it waits and gradually gives way for the dentine to regrow.
The small-molecule GSK-3 contains Tideglusib which has been thoroughly tested and is currently used to treat disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. The collagen sponge, on the other hand, is commercially available and has been clinically proven to be safe for use. This just means everything is set to get this dental treatment publicly available in no time.
A few more clinical trials and approvals, and soon our dentists will be able to give us a natural alternative to fix our tooth problems.