Repairing dental cavities is a less-than-ideal process. Damaged tooth material is drilled out and replaced with different materials. In the past metal amalgam was almost always used. Now we are more likely to use tooth-colored fillings, either composite or ceramic. But in any case, we know that nothing is as good as the natural tooth material that nature gave us, if only there were some way to restore that natural tooth enamel. Now, it seems researchers in the UK have developed one.
Remineralizing Your Enamel
Tooth enamel is the most mineralized tissue in the body. Enamel is about 96% mineral, much more than the material underneath it, called dentin, which has about as much mineral in it as bone does, about 70%. When your teeth are attacked by acid from bacteria, the acid removes minerals from the enamel, initially softening it, then breaking it down completely.
Researchers at King’s College in London have developed a technique they call teeth whitening procedure, which would be a secondary effect of the process. And they say they can bring this process to market within three years.
The Future of Dentistry?
If this process works on a large scale and can be implemented commercially, we’re looking at a complete transformation in the way we do dentistry. In this case, your routine cleaning and checkup would also include a remineralization procedure, which would hopefully be enough to prevent you from ever developing cavities. Depending on your diet and oral care habits, you may have to see the dentist more often, but as a preventive tool, this would be amazing.
If cavities did develop and did get past your enamel, though, we would still have to use restorations. Although researchers at Harvard have developed a way to regrow lost dentin, no one has developed a technique for regrowing enamel that has been lost.
Although we can all look forward to this bright future, for now we have to handle cavities in the old way and hopefully prevent the loss of enamel before the new technique is available.
If you’re overdue for a visit to the dentist in Philadelphia, please call (610) 272-0828 for an appointment.