All of your life, your dentists, parents and others have been telling you how important it is to take good care of your teeth. Once you lose your enamel or once deep decay sets in, you need fillings and other treatments to reverse decay and restore the teeth. There's no way to regrow teeth.
Or is there? A recent study, performed at King's College London and published in Scientific Reports, examined how one drug, Tideglusib, may encourage regrowth of the teeth.
More About Tideglusib
Tideglusib is often prescribed to Alzheimer's patients. It is intended to inhibit glycogen synthase kinase-3, an enzyme that has a hand in many disorders, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, inflammatory conditions, neurodegenerative disorders and psychiatric diseases, according to a study in Pharmacology & Therapeutics.
Currently, Tideglusib is undergoing clinical trials to determine its potential benefits for patients with Alzheimer's. Some studies, such as one published by the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, didn't find much clinical benefit of using Tideglusib to treat patients. But, could the drug have an effect on other parts of the body?
What the Study Found
The King's College researchers found that Tideglusib stimulated the growth of stem cells in the dental pulp of mice's teeth. The scientists drilled holes in the teeth, then placed small collagen sponges to apply the Tideglusib to the inner part of the teeth. About four weeks into the treatment, the dentin, which is the layer just beneath the tooth's enamel, had been restored.
The Limits of the Study
The British study made an interesting finding, one that led plenty of newspapers and magazines to declare bold headlines, such as "the end of fillings in sight" (The Telegraph) and "'tooth repair drug' may replace fillings" (BBC). However, it's important to understand that a method to actually regrow teeth is still pretty far away.
For one thing, the study described itself as a "novel, biological approach," suggesting that it was more interested in finding how Tideglusib can encourage tissue regrowth or can stimulate stem cells than it was in finding a way to replace fillings. For another thing, the study was conducted using the teeth of mice.
Although mice teeth might have their similarities to human teeth, there's no way to know for sure what effect Tideglusib will have on human teeth until similar tests are performed on them. Finally, it's important to remember that Tideglusib is still in the trial phase for many other conditions, including Alzheimer's. It's not available to non-Alzheimer's patients.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Teeth
While you wait for scientists to complete studies and tests of a drug that could potentially regrow human teeth, there are a number of ways you can protect your own teeth from wear and decay in the meantime. Severe cavities and decay aren't reversible, but in the early stages, it can be possible to undo some tooth decay. If you have some enamel wear, brushing with a reminerlizing toothpaste like Colgate Total Daily Repair, which strengthens teeth by remineralizing weakened enamel, can be helpful. Cutting back on sugary foods and drinks will also help protect your teeth from decay.
Your dentist is a great resource. He or she can treat any existing cavities and give you tips for protecting your mouth for years to come.