An Alzheimer’s Drug Has Been Found to Help Teeth Repair Themselves in Just 6 Weeks
Dental fillings may soon become a thing become a thing of the past, thanks to a new discovery about a drug called Tideglusib.
This drug, which is developed for and trialed to treat Alzheimer’s disease, can also encourage tooth regrowth and repair cavities.
Researchers discovered that the drug Tideglusib stimulates the stem cells contained in the pulp of teeth, the source of new dentine. Dentine is the mineralized substance under the enamel that gets eaten away by tooth decay.
Teeth are able to naturally regenerate dentine without help, but only under certain circumstances. The pulp inside the tooth must be exposed through infection (like decay) or trauma in order to prompt the manufacture of dentine. However, even then the tooth can only naturally make a very thin layer, not enough to repair cavities caused by decay, which are usually deep. Tideglusib switches off an enzyme called GSK-3, which stops dentine from carrying on forming.
In the research, scientists showed it’s possible to soak a tiny biodegradable sponge with Tideglusib and insert it into a cavity. The sponge triggered the growth of dentine and repaired the damage within six weeks.
Since the tiny sponges were made out of collagen, they melted away, leaving only the intact tooth.
In an interview with Telegraph, Professor Paul Sharpe, lead author and King’s College London Dental Institute Professor said: “Using a drug that has already been tested in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease provides a real opportunity to get this dental treatment quickly into clinics.”
“The simplicity of our approach makes it ideal as a clinical dental product for the natural treatment of large cavities, by providing both pulp protection and restoring dentine.”
At the moment, dentists use man-made cements or fillings, like calcium and silicon-based products in order to treat larger cavities and fill the holes in teeth.
But, this new technique could reduce the need for cements or fillings, which tend to develop an infection and often need to be replaced numerous times. When fillings don’t succeed or infection occurs, dentists must remove and fill an area larger than what’s affected and ultimately may need to extract the tooth after multiple treatments.
Moreover, according to Dr. Nigel Carter, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation: “Creating a more natural way for the tooth to repair itself could not only eliminate these issues but also be a far less invasive treatment option for patients. With dental phobia still being very common, using a natural way to stimulate the renewal of dentine could be an especially comforting proposal for these groups, for which undergoing treatment can often be a cause great anxiety.”
So far, the procedure has only been used in mouse teeth. Nevertheless, Tideglusib has already proved to be safe in clinical trials of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, so researchers are confident this treatment could be incorporated into dental practices really soon.