Tooth enamel is the mineralized substance that arms the surface of teeth. With time and exposure to acids found in food and drink, enamel breaks down and causes cavities. Because our bodies are unable to regenerate enamel, we go to the dentist and get temporary fillings made from resins and ceramics. According to a recent ADAPT article, that strategy could soon be a thing of the past as scientists have developed a way to regrow tooth enamel.
A team of researchers at Zhejiang University School of Medicine created a gel that makes enamel repair itself. They combined two minerals found in enamel, calcium and phosphate ions, in an alcoholic solution with the organic compound trimethylamine. When they applied it to damaged tooth samples, the gel created a new layer of enamel ~3 micrometers thick in just 48 hours. The next step is for the team to test their technique in an actual human mouth, followed by clinical trials within two years. If the concept is proven, the gel could be used both to repair teeth, and protect them to prevent decay in the first place.