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Synthetic enamel paste could heal cavities

A paste that heals cavities? Dentists in Japan say they've invented one-a paste made of synthetic enamel that seamlessly heals small cavities.

When decay occurs, it first penetrates the tooth enamel (the hard outer shell of the tooth). If administered at the decay's earliest stages, researchers say the paste can restore enamel.

The paste is made by combining fluorine ions with calcium-rich hydroxyapatite crystals-the basis for real human teeth. Adding fluorine turns the crystal into "a gleaming white paste" that chemically and structurally resembles natural tooth enamel, according to Discovery News.

To restore the tooth enamel, researchers cleaned the affected tooth with regular toothpaste and brushed on the synthetic enamel paste. The paste was cured for 15 minutes to allow the crystals of the synthetic enamel to reach the tooth and become part of the existing enamel.

"The synthetic enamel and natural enamel are identical, and the synthetic enamel is combined with the tooth enamel on the level of natural crystal, not by attaching," Dr. Kazue Yamagishi, lead author of the paper and a scientist at the FAP Dental Institute in Tokyo, told Discovery News.

The synthetic enamel buffs up to a bright white color, too.

The technique used by Dr. Yamagishi and his team is similar to a more common method of tooth repair that involves covering the cavity with an acidic phosphate fluoride solution. That technique leaves a gap between the repaired area and the natural tooth. Because of the crystal bond, Dr. Yamagishi said the new paste resulted in no such gap.

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

04/18/2005

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