Dentists may soon be able to let up on the drill. Researcher in England have found a way to reverse damage to tooth enamel and regrow decayed teeth. That means people who put off dental visits for fear of a drilling—the most common reason for shunning the dentist’s chair—could avoid it even if their teeth aren’t in perfect shape.
That could help thousands of people, because regular dental check-ups are the first line of defense against tooth decay. When people don’t visit the dentist, problems that might have been reversible if caught early enough instead only get worse. The new treatment, which is expected to be generally available within three years, can make painful methods entirely avoidable.
“This may sound too good to be true, but we are essentially helping acid-damaged teeth to regenerate themselves,” said Professor Jennifer Kirkham of the University of Leeds Dental Institute. “It is a totally natural non-surgical repair process and is entirely pain-free too.” Professor Kirkham was one of the lead researchers responsible for the technique.
The treatment uses a naturally occurring chemical, or peptide, to fill in acid damage on teeth. The peptide, known as P11-4, then creates a structure to attract and hold calcium, building healthy teeth and repairing damage. This replaces current techniques and allows dentists to fix teeth rather than using amalgam fillings or replacing them entirely.