New pain-free treatment for tooth decay may replace drills
SUMMARY: There might be a new pain-free prospect for fixing tooth decay.
Posted: June 17, 2014
It's not uncommon to be afraid of the whirring and buzzing from dentist's tools. But now dentist-fearing patients may have a new, painless option that solves tooth decay, a big contributor to bad breath.
London dentists developed a pain-free filling that allows cavities to repair themselves without drilling or injections.
Usually, tooth decay is removed with a drill before dentists fill the cavity with a substance named amalgam or composite.
However, the new treatment called Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralization (EAER) speeds up the natural movement of calcium phosphate minerals into the damaged tooth. The two-step process first prepares the eroded enamel, then allows a small electric current to pass minerals into the site.
"The way we treat teeth today is not ideal," Professor Nigel Pitts from King's College London's Dental Institute told the Guardian. "When we repair a tooth by putting in a filling, that tooth enters a cycle of drilling and re-filling as, ultimately, each 'repair' fails. Not only is our device kinder to the patient and better for their teeth, but it's expected to be at least as cost-effective as current dental treatments."
King's College is a participant in MedCity, a project kickstarted by London mayor, Boris Johnson, to encourage entrepreneurship in the London-Oxford-Cambridge life sciences. The chairman of MedCity, Kit Malthouse, said he feels optimistic that the new device has the potential to make a real difference to dental health and a patient's overall experience in the dentist's office.
Tooth decay: Preventable
According to a report published in the Journal of Dental Research, 35 percent of the world's population suffers from dental caries - one of the most common of all major oral diseases. Tooth decay not only worsens personal wellness by causing pain and discomfort, it also causes employees to miss thousands of cumulative hours of work.
There are close to 4 billion people around the globe who deal with untreated oral health conditions that trigger toothaches and prevent them from eating and even sleeping properly, said Professor Wagner Marcenes of Queen Mary, University of London.
The ironic part is that cavities are almost entirely preventable. Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each session, flossing once a day and eating a smart, healthy diet can significantly reduce one's risk for caries.
The research for EAER is expected to be commercialized by Reminova Ltd, a company based in Perth, Scotland. Pitts and his colleagues believe the technology could be available to patients within three years.