Researchers may have found a way to rebuild cavity-damaged teeth without the use of expensive and painful treatments.
Peptide-based treatment - which involves amino acid chains applied and then bound to lesions in the enamel of a tooth - proved to effectively "heal" enamel erosion in a University of Washington lab, researchers discovered.
It encourages the enamel to grow back on its own, a process that was previously impossible once tooth enamel was lost.
"Remineralization guided by peptides is a healthy alternative to current dental health care," co-author Mehmet Sarikaya told UW News about the study, which was published in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering.
The team used proteins called an amelogenins, one of the more important components in regulating our existing enamel. The peptide-based treatment's design was inspired by how amelogenins are structured but with the peptides as the active agent in the compound. When applied to a lesion or damaged area of tooth enamel, the product helped to form a new layer of protection on the tooth while integrating itself with the tooth's remaining enamel, creating a bond.
Researchers said in their study that although the experiment was successful in their lab, the next step is to see how it works out in a living mouth - same goes for the product's cavity healing properties. But they're optimistic that it could eventually make its way to drug store shelves.