Fillings, nobody really likes them but as we all know they are necessary. Left untreated, and they can turn into painful teeth removals. However, there is good news. Scientists at the university of King’s College London have developed a technique which effectively makes teeth repair themselves.
Before we get into the process, let’s examine what cavities (caries) are and how they form. The two outer layers of a tooth are called the enamel (the outer white area around the tooth) and the dentin (the yellow layer just beneath the enamel). The holes that are formed in these outer layers are called cavities, and you may be surprised that almost 90% of people experience cavities at one point or another.
What are cavities caused by?
Certain foods and drinks are high in sugar content (particularly sodas, and different types of confectionery). The bacteria in your mouth take these sugars and transform them into acid plaque, which erodes both the enamel and the dentin of your teeth and thereby leads to holes in your teeth which are known as cavities, over time causing pain and irritation.
Removal of Cavities
Traditional removal of cavities requires the dentist to drill into the tooth, and remove the bad material that is now there as a result of poor tooth hygiene, excessive consumption of acidic and sugary foods or because of general wear and tear. This procedure can sometimes be painful, and annoying. Luckily, there is a solution.
It’s called Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralisation (EAER) and instead of painful drilling, by using an electric current the technique encourages the movement of calcium and phosphate minerals into the tooth, thereby accelerating the healing process and fighting tooth decay. The method is two fold, the damaged part of the tooth is first made accessible through traditional dental procedures (sterilization etc) then a small electric current is used to ‘move’ minerals into the area and remineralize it. The entire procedure is painless, without the need for drills or injections, and is suggested to be as cost effective, if not cheaper than traditional fillings.
“The way we treat teeth today is not ideal – 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,” Professor Nigel Pitts said in a press release. “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. Along with fighting tooth decay, our device can also be used to whiten teeth.”
Read the full release here
According to Pitts, we can expect to see EAER commercialized and made available to the public in approximately three years.