Regenerating tooth enamel the hard, translucent, protective layer over your teeth has so far been impossible. It’s the toughest substance in the human body, and has a complicated structure that hasn’t yet been able to be replicated by modern science.
In previous research from 2015, scientists came close to regrowing tooth enamel by replicating a component in the enamel to help the body regenerate new enamel.
However, scientists have now created a new gel that may actually be able to grow new tooth enamel to protect the teeth and change the way we treat cavities and tooth sensitivity, both of which are common results of enamel damage.
In new research, scientists have designed a material composed of calcium phosphate ion clusters that they’ve used to create a foundation to grow enamel. This foundation would essentially create a new layer that mimics hard tissue development, such as that seen in our natural tooth enamel.
Once the gel is used, the damaged enamel can essentially regenerate itself because the base layer replicates the structure and biological properties of natural tooth enamel.
This new science could lead to an effective way to regenerate tooth enamel at your dentist in the future. Here’s what that could mean for your smile!
First, What Exactly Is Tooth Enamel?
Our teeth are essentially made of two different parts the crown of the tooth, which is the part that you can see in your mouth, and the root, which is anchored in your jaw and lies deep in the center of the tooth.
Leading down to the roots of your tooth is an area called a pulp chamber, which contains nerves and blood vessels that keep the tooth alive, sometimes referred to as simply the pulp of the tooth.
The roots that anchor the tooth are surrounded by a material called cementum, which is a type of connective tissue that protects your tooth’s root in the jaw.
The crown of your tooth is mostly made up of dentin, which is the layer beneath tooth enamel and cementum. It’s softer compared to enamel, but is still an essential component of your smile. Your tooth’s crown is covered in enamel, which is the shiny, hard substance that protects our teeth.
The importance of tooth enamel can’t be overstated. It protects teeth from chips, fractures, and breaks. Enamel is also designed to keep our teeth safe from the acids and bacteria that exist in our mouths to prevent tooth decay.
The smooth texture of enamel also helps prevent food from sticking to your teeth. Tooth enamel forms in the womb when the teeth begin to develop during the third month of pregnancy, so all the teeth are mineralized with tooth enamel before birth!
How Tooth Enamel Is Damaged
Since tooth enamel contains one of the highest mineral contents, it can be damaged in a process called demineralization, which can effectively weaken tooth enamel and lead to cavities.
Of course, tooth enamel is designed to protect teeth, but it’s not immune to damage as the result of the foods we eat, the bacteria in our oral cavities, and physical damage such as from brushing too hard.
Demineralization can happen for a variety of reasons, including poor oral care, which can lead to plaque buildup (a mixture of bacteria and food particles that can accumulate on our teeth) and cavities.
Diet also plays a role in our enamel health, as nutrient-dense foods have been shown to support enamel health while processed foods including sugars can work to hurt it.
Tooth enamel can also be damaged from acidic foods and drinks, which cause the oral cavity to produce bacteria that can attack tooth enamel. Dry mouth has a similar effect it causes lack of saliva which can lead to less of a buffer between bacteria and acids and your teeth, and can cause weakened tooth enamel.
Currently, there’s no way for tooth enamel to be regenerated if a cavity or tooth sensitivity results from your missing tooth enamel, your dentist in Asheville would need to treat the problem with fillings or fluoride to protect your teeth where your missing tooth enamel is.
The Future of Fillings
The research notes that while modern filling materials contribute to restoring tooth enamel, they aren’t able to permanently repair the enamel because they’re foreign materials. However, the new layer of regenerated tooth enamel would naturally be integrated with your original tooth enamel in a way that would be permanent.
Their hope is that this process could one day lead to an effective cure for enamel erosion in clinical practice. The researchers say the key to regenerating enamel is the duplication of its structure, which would present an effective natural approach to missing tooth enamel.
Currently, modern dental fillings are the only way to rejuvenate teeth that have been affected by tooth decay. While fillings certainly do their job to protect the tooth and its structure following decay, fillings don’t last forever and all fillings need to be replaced at some point.
With this new gel, one day your dentist in Asheville could utilize enamel regeneration treatment to help your body grow new enamel instead of using a dental filling!
Protect Your Enamel!
Until the day comes when we’ll see tooth enamel regenerated at the dentist office, it’s important to protect your enamel in the meantime to prevent tooth sensitivity, tooth decay, discoloration, and a weakened tooth structure.
Keeping your tooth enamel healthy is as simple as following just a few general guidelines:
- Brush and floss your teeth. This will keep plaque and harmful bacteria off of your pearly whites, allowing your tooth enamel to do its job.
- Eat healthy. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and lean protein with vitamins and minerals including calcium and vitamin D can help your tooth enamel stay strong.
- Visit your dentist. Your Asheville dentist will conduct regular exams and cleanings of your teeth, allowing your tooth enamel to stay strong and healthy while you enjoy a beautiful, clean smile!
While the gel hasn’t yet been approved for human trials yet, this marks yet another step closer to scientists being able to regenerate tooth enamel, which could change the way we treat tooth decay and care for our smiles in the future!