Look Mom, No Fillings! A Biological Approach For The Treatment Of Cavities

Teeth can use their own natural ability to repair large cavities

Scientists at Kings College in London have discovered a new method of stimulating the renewal of stem cells in tooth pulp using an Alzheimer’s drug.

The ABC’s of cavities or a look beneath the surface

An infection or trauma can expose the inner, soft tooth pulp, and further infection may ensue. In response, the body, in an effort to heal, produces a thin layer of dentine which seals the pulp in the tooth. Dentine is a natural mineralized substance that protects the tooth.

However, this natural response is insufficient to effectively repair larger cavities. Therefore, dentists use man-made fillings (calcium and silicon-based products) to treat these larger cavities and holes in the teeth.

The cement used by dentists remains in the teeth, it does not disintegrate.  But this approach is not optimal because the normal mineral level of the tooth is NEVER completely restored.

And now, the good news! Tooth pulp can stimulate new dentine

In a paper recently published in Scientific Reports, researchers from the Dental Institute at Kings College London have discovered a way to stimulate tooth pulp to generate new dentine. This could lead to a reduction in the need for fillings or cement.

Why are fillings and cements bad? The benefits of this novel, biological approach

  • Cements and fillings make a tooth prone to future infection.
  • As a consequence, fillings often need replacement, sometimes a number of times.
  • When fillings fail or there is infection, dentists must remove the filling and then fill an area even larger than the affected area.
  • After multiple treatments, the tooth may eventually need to be extracted.

Since this new method encourages natural repair, it could eliminate all the the issues listed above.

A Real Opportunity to Fast-track this revolutionary treatment into practice

Significantly, one of the molecules used by the team of scientists in their research is called Tideglusib, a potent, small molecule that has been used in clinical trials to treat Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders.

The researchers used biodegradable, collagen sponges which are already commercially available and clinically approved – this further helps to fast-track this treatment into practice.

Voila – complete natural tooth repair! Here’s how it works:

  • To deliver the treatment, scientists applied low doses of glycogen synthase kinase inhibitors to the teeth using collagen sponges. (GSK-3 is a small molecule.)
  • They discovered that the sponges degraded over time AND new dentine replaced it!

“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.

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.”

– Professor Paul Sharpe, Head of Craniofacial Development and Stem Cell Biology, Kings College London Dental Institute


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