Scientists believe that they have created a material, which could facilitate enamel regeneration, preventing sensitivity and reducing the risk of cavities. The outer surface of the tooth is covered by enamel, the hardest substance in the body. Although enamel is incredibly hardwearing and durable, it cannot regrow once it is worn or damaged. Approximately 50 percent of the global population suffers from dental pain linked to decay or enamel erosion.
The London researchers have developed a means of growing mineralised materials, which would make the regeneration of hard tissues, such as bone and tooth enamel, possible. The team has identified a form of protein, which is capable of triggering the formation and growth of crystals in a way that mimics the development of enamel. The findings of the study have been published in the Nature Communications journal.
Dr Sherif Elsharkawy, co-author and dentist, explained that the study is “exciting” because the versatility of the “mineralisation platform” offers myriad opportunities to regenerate tissue within the body. Fellow author, Professor Alvaro Mata, hailed the research as a “key discovery”, which works by regulating and taking advantage of the protein’s ability to trigger and control the mineralisation process. By finding a way to exploit the proteins, the team worked on a technique that enables them to “easily grow synthetic materials.”