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New tooth repair method found

A new method of stimulating the renewal of living stem cells in tooth pulp using an Alzheimer’s drug has been discovered by a team of researchers at King’s College London, potentially reducing the need for cements or fillings.

Following trauma or an infection, the inner, soft pulp KCL Dentistryof a tooth can become exposed and infected. In order to protect itself from infection, the tooth naturally produces a thin band of dentine and this seals the tooth pulp, but it is insufficient to effectively repair large cavities. Currently dentists use man-made cements or fillings, such as calcium and silicon-based products, to treat these larger cavities and fill holes in teeth. This cement remains in the tooth and fails to disintegrate, meaning that the normal mineral level of the tooth is never completely restored.

However, in a paper published in Scientific Reports, Tooth repairscientists from the Dental Institute at King’s
College London have proven a way to stimulate the stem cells contained in the pulp of the tooth and generate new dentine – the mineralised material that protects the tooth - in large cavities, which could potentially reduce the need for fillings or cements.

Image of repaired tooth.

One of the small molecules used by the team to stimulate the renewal of the stem cells included Tideglusib, which has previously been used in clinical trials to treat neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s disease. This presents a real opportunity to fast-track the treatment into practice.

Lead author of the study, Professor Paul Sharpe from King’s College London, said:

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.

Read more on the King’s College London website.