Imagine if you could go to the dentist to have your teeth checked, to have a filling knowing that no needles or drills will be used in the process. Sound too good to be true? Well, it isn’t, because scientists from King’s College London could have found the answer we have all been searching for.
There are many people who will put off going to the dentist, dreading the sound of the drills and the painful injections before they have a treatment. However, by putting these treatments off, it can leave you with unnecessary dental pain and severer problems and may even lead to you frantically searching Google to help you get an emergency tooth extraction near you today. But with the promise of pain-free fillings, this could all be set to change.
Technology to Help Teeth Remineralise
Reminova Ltd (one of King’s College London’s spin-out companies) has been developing a new device, which could take your teeth back to their former state by encouraging them to repair themselves. This device would help to take tooth decay treatment to a whole new level, removing the pain associated with it. It does this by electrically reversing the process of tooth decay, helping teeth to ‘remineralize’ themselves.
Dental caries (tooth decay) is something 2.3 billion people suffer from each year, which means it’s one of the most common diseases around the world that is preventable. It normally starts as a microscopic defect before developing through a number of other stages. Minerals start to leach out of the tooth and continue to do this in a natural cycle, moving in and out. However, when too much of this mineral is lost, it undermines the enamel, which leads to a caries lesion developing. This can then become a cavity at a later stage.
A dentist will normally treat caries by drilling the tooth to remove any of the decay before filling in the tooth with a material like composite resin or amalgam.
Re-Building and Healing a Tooth
The approach that Reminova Ltd takes is an entirely different one to this traditional approach. Instead, without using amalgam, needles or drills, this process helps the tooth to heal and rebuild itself. It does this by accelerating the process by which phosphate and calcium minerals re-enter teeth to start repairing the defect, boosting this natural healing process.
This has been something the dentistry industry has been trying to harness for many years, but King’s College London has seen a great breakthrough that may soon see this method being used in a dentist practice near you.
A Two-Step Method
The first part of the method is to prepare the enamel outer layer that has been damaged on the tooth before using a tiny electric current. This ‘pushes’ the minerals into the tooth so they can start to repair this damaged area. The defect is then remineralized in a process that is painless and doesn’t require filling materials, injections or drills. Electric currents aren’t unknown to dentistry as these are used to check nerves or the pulp of a tooth but this new device from Reminova Ltd uses a much smaller current, and it won’t be felt by the patient.
It is believed that this technique, named Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralisation (EAER) could be appearing in the market within the next three years. The team at Reminova Ltd will be based in Perth, Scotland where they will be able to benefit from the expertise at the sciences and dentistry base. The work of Dr Chris Longbottom and Professor Nigel Pitts will be commercialized here.
Speaking about their findings, Professor Nigel Pitts said that the present way teeth are treated isn’t ideal because the process of repairing a tooth with a filling means that you enter into a cycle of drilling and re-filling. This ultimately means that each repair being carried out is failing. He also went on to say that the device they have produced is not only much kinder for patients and better for teeth but will also be a more cost-effective solution compared to traditional methods. Not only can the device tackle tooth decay but it can also help to create whiter teeth.
Reminova is the first company to spin-out of King’s College London Dental Innovation and Translation Centre and was launched in 2013. It was formed to take novel technologies and research to a new level, developing products and changing practices to improve healthcare and health around the world.
GUEST POST – Mike Plambeck is a dental marketing professional who writes about the world of online dental marketing as well as educational dental health topics. He lives in Lincoln, NE and raises 2 kids, Noah and Dani, along with his wife Marissa.