Did you know that tooth enamel is the hardest substance in your whole body? This protective material on the outer layer of our teeth is made up of minerals and helps to fight away tooth decay caused by acids, sugars and plaque. Despite its hard properties, if enamel isn’t protected through regular brushing and flossing, it can erode and lead to tooth decay, pain and tooth loss.
Once enamel is gone, it doesn’t come back, but new research shows that there may be a material that can mimic the look and behaviors of dental enamel. The finding could offer hope for people suffering from tooth decay or sensitivity, thanks to researchers at Queen Mary University of London.
A statement from Queen Mary University of London detailed the study’s results, including a mineralization platform using a certain type of proteins that could foster the growth of apatite nanocrystals, which are crucial to building — and now potentially rebuilding — enamel.
“The mechanism that has been developed is based on a specific protein material that is able to trigger and guide the growth of apatite nanocrystals at multiple scales – similarly to how these crystals grow when dental enamel develops in our body. This structural organisation is critical for the outstanding physical properties exhibited by natural dental enamel,” the statement reads.
Dr. Sherif Elsharkawy, a dentist who was the first author of the study, said that the platform could help to regenerate dental enamel and produce other innovations in dental protection and restoration.
“This is exciting because the simplicity and versatility of the mineralisation platform opens up opportunities to treat and regenerate dental tissues,” he said. “For example, we could develop acid resistant bandages that can infiltrate, mineralise, and shield exposed dentinal tubules of human teeth for the treatment of dentin hypersensitivity.
The statement released by Queen Mary University of London said that the newfound control of the mineralization process could be applied throughout all types of regenerative medicine, pointing to bone and dentin as other examples.
The Final Word
The findings provide hope that dental enamel could be regenerated in the near future through the process tested by researchers in the Queen Mary University of London study. While great strides are being made in the field of enamel regeneration, it is no substitute for proper dental hygiene. Teeth should be brushed twice a day along with daily flossing to keep your teeth clean and free from harmful bacteria that can lead to tooth decay. Regular dentist appointments are also a necessity, as your dentist will be able to notice any abnormalities and suggest dental habits best for your teeth.