The state of the brush: Can you regrow tooth enamel?

Welcome to our new breakdown of all things dental tech! The State of the Brush is a new series that looks at some of the newest and most exciting advances and inventions in the world of dentistry. So what new and surprises should your smile get excited about? 

Zhejiang University’s surprising solution

 

Recently, scientists from Zhejiang University have successfully regrown tooth enamel in laboratory conditions. This is notable because this is the first time tooth enamel has been repaired in its natural form.

What could this mean?

Current procedures (fillings, sealants, etc.) are akin to patching a hole in a wall. Unfortunately, these patches also have a distressing habit of coming loose, needing repair and not completely halting tooth decay. With naturally regrowing enamel, teeth could repair themselves. Cavities could be fixed without drills or fillings, and sealants could become unnecessary altogether. The possibilities could change dentistry as a whole. Cracked enamel could fix itself. Fillings could be a thing of the past. 

When will this arrive?

It might be a little early to get excited about regenerating teeth, however. The tooth enamel was repaired in laboratory conditions with extracted teeth in a simulated mouth environment. The solution also only repaired small sections of enamel. Next steps for the team include animal testing, verifying toxicity is at safe levels and increasing the enamel repaired per treatment.

But even with all the work ahead, this technology could have some pretty wild implications for the field of dentistry. Think about it — dental drills could become a thing of the past. 

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