King’s College London – King’s spin-out will put tooth decay in a ‘time warp’
Dentists could soon be giving your teeth a mild ‘time warp’ to encourage them to self-repair, thanks to a new device being developed by dental researchers. Reminova Ltd, a new spin-out company from King’s College London, aims to take the pain out of tooth decay treatment by electrically reversing the process to help teeth ‘remineralise’.
With 2.3 billion sufferers annually, dental caries is one of the most common preventable diseases globally. Tooth decay normally develops in several stages, starting as a microscopic defect where minerals leach out of tooth. Minerals continue to move in and out of the tooth in a natural cycle, but when too much mineral is lost, the enamel is undermined and the tooth is said to have developed a caries lesion (which can later become a physical cavity). Dentists normally treat established caries in a tooth by drilling to remove the decay and filling the tooth with a material such as amalgam or composite resin.
Reminova Ltd takes a different approach – one that re-builds the tooth and heals it without the need for drills, needles or amalgam. By accelerating the natural process by which calcium and phosphate minerals re-enter the tooth to repair a defect, the device boosts the tooth’s natural repair process. Dentistry has been trying to harness this process for the last few decades, but the King’s breakthrough means the method could soon be in use at the dentist’s chair.
The two-step method developed by Reminova first prepares the damaged part of the enamel outer layer of the tooth, then uses a tiny electric current to ‘push’ minerals into the tooth to repair the damaged site. The defect is remineralised in a painless process that requires no drills, no injections and no filling materials. Electric currents are already used by dentists to check the pulp or nerve of a tooth; the new device uses a far smaller current than that currently used on patients and which cannot be felt by the patient.
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