Scientists Develop Method For Filling Cavities–Without Drilling

It’s no secret: many people have a serious aversion to the dentist’s office–and the dental drill is probably the chief culprit. I don’t know anyone who has ever admitted to actually liking the drill. But if what we hear coming out of the University of Washington is as promising as it sounds, the sound of the dreaded drill may soon become a little less common.

Researchers there have recently developed a new method that holds the promise to repair tooth cavities without the need for painful fillings–and without drilling. The experimental procedure involves the rebuilding of the tooth’s protective enamel, making use of amino acids called peptides. Preliminary findings show that these peptides can actually create new mineral layers, potentially allowing dentists to help patients repair broken teeth organically.

Published on the ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering website, the research employed models with artificially created dental lesions, to which researchers applied specially designed peptides. The substances were shown to heal the artificial cavities, effectively remineralizing the tooth enamel. Although the technique can only be used for enamel cavities, and not damage to the tooth’s dentine layer, it might mean we’ll soon be looking at a much less invasive way to treat enamel lesions.

Of course, further research will be required to see how the method works with living teeth. But here’s the best part: the researchers think the peptides could even be added to toothpaste to heal teeth–before cavities even form.

We’ll be back with more dental news, so check back again soon!