Scientists claim to have finally solved the problem of tooth enamel repair.
Although enamel is the hardest tissue in the body, it can not repair itself. Now scientists have discovered a method that reproduces the complex structure and essentially "regrown" the enamel.
The research team says the materials are cheap and can be produced on a large scale. "After intensive discussions with dentists, we believe that this new method can be widely used in the future," said Dr. Zhaoming Liu, co-author of the Zhejiang University Study in China It is estimated that around 2.4 billion people worldwide have caries in their permanent teeth, while 486 million children have tooth decay in their deciduous teeth.
At present, materials such as resin, metal alloys, amalgam and ceramics used to repair damaged enamel are not ideal.
"The resin-based material still does not adhere well to the enamel, and it dissolves after about five years," Liu said.
While scientists have been thinking about this problem for years Many approaches have encountered problems ̵
The researchers behind the latest study, published in the journal Science Advances, say they circumvented this problem by developing tiny calcium phosphate clusters – the main component of tooth enamel – with a diameter of just 1.5 nanometers and far less as the previously used.
This was achieved by making the clusters in the presence of a substance called triethylamine, which prevented clumping.
To test their clusters, the team used crystalline hydroxyapatite, which resembles natural enamel. The results showed that the clusters were fused to this material and formed a layer with a much narrower array than previous larger clusters.
The team says this is important as the new layer transforms over time and becomes crystalline. Extends the underlying structure in a continuous manner rather than forming many crystalline regions.
The team then applied their clusters to human teeth exposed to acid. They found that within 48 hours, the clusters formed a 2.7-micron thick crystalline layer with the complex fish-scale structure of the underlying natural enamel.
The repaired enamel had similar strength and wear. Resistance to natural, undamaged enamel.
Dr. Sherif Elsharkawy, a prosthetics expert at King's College London who was not involved in the work, praised the research and said he found the approach very exciting.
"The method is simple, but it has to be clinically validated," he said, adding that it could take a few years for the method to be used in the dental office.
Elsharkawy said that the layers would have to be scaled to 0.5 to 2 mm in thickness to treat cavities.
Although Liu and colleagues agree that layer thickness is a limitation, they are working on ways to improve it. Liu said the team hopes to be able to use it on humans in one to two years' time.