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Tooth Regeneration

October 19, 2011

A new technique can reverse early tooth decay without drilling.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

An escape from the dentist’s drill. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Soon, dentists may treat early tooth decay with a drop of fluid instead of a drill. This according to Jennifer Kirkham, head of oral biology at the University of Leeds Dental Institute in England. She and her colleagues have created a solution of loose peptides, or protein chains, that can infiltrate microscopic holes in damaged teeth. Inside the tooth, the proteins self-assemble into a scaffold, and attract calcium ions that rebuild the tooth like new. Kirkham’s group recently finished their first clinical trials.

JENNIFER KIRKHAM (University of Leeds):

Some lesions disappeared altogether, so they were completely repaired; others repaired to a lesser extent but still repaired significantly.

HIRSHON:

Kirkham stresses that the technique works only on the earliest stages of tooth decay. But the upside is that it could motivate people to get regular checkups, knowing that early intervention could save them a lot of pain. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.