Fillings could be consigned to history after scientists discovered that a drug already in Alzheimer’s patients can encourage tooth regrowth and repair cavities. Researchers at King’s College London found that the drug Tideglusib stimulates the stem cells contained in the pulp of teeth so that they generate new dentine – the mineralised material under the enamel. Teeth already have the capability of regenerating dentine if the pulp inside the tooth becomes exposed through a trauma or infection, but can only naturally make a very thin layer, and not enough to fill the deep cavities caused by tooth decay. But Tideglusib switches off an enzyme called GSK-3 which prevents dentine from carrying on forming. Scientists showed it is possible to soak a small biodegradable sponge with the drug and insert it into a cavity, where it triggers the growth of dentine and repairs the damage within six weeks. The tiny sponges are made out of collagen so they melt away over time, leaving only the repaired tooth.
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