Damaged teeth could be naturally regrown using a drug currently taken by Alzheimer’s sufferers, scientists have discovered.
The breakthrough from researchers at King’s College London could reduce the need for fillings to prevent tooth loss, The Independent reported.
Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers found the drug could be used to create new dentine that filled large cavities.
“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,” Professor Paul Sharpe told The Independent.
“In addition, 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.”
Although teeth can cope with minor damage, large holes must be filled or the tooth may later need to be extracted.
The scientists found the drug Tideglusib can be used to boost a natural repair mechanism whereby dentine grows naturally to cover any exposed inner parts of the tooth.
If the soft inner pulp of the tooth is exposed, it heightens the risk of infection.
The researchers applied Tideglusib and another substance known as glycogen synthase kinase to the tooth, using a biodegradable sponge.
Dentine took the place of the sponge when it degraded, the scientists said, which lead to “complete, natural repair”.
The drug has been used to treat various neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s.