Scientists regrow tooth enamel
Although we have the means to repair or strengthen tooth enamel, once damaged, reconstructing the outer layer of the teeth is a formidable challenge. Tooth enamel is extremely hard because it is composed primarily of calcium and phosphate ions occurring in the form of highly organised, tightly packed hydroxyapatite crystals. However, it only has limited ways of regenerating itself once attacked by wear, acids or bacteria and very often, the only solution is restoration.
Obviously, there are many dental materials that can be used to restore tooth enamel, such as composite resins, ceramics and amalgam. However, they are foreign materials and often fail to achieve a permanent repair. Furthermore, artificially duplicating the complicated structure of enamel and re-growing a strong, hard overlayer for the teeth is almost impossible. However, a team of scientists in China have now come up with a very promising solution.
By mixing calcium and phosphate ions with a chemical called triethylamine in an alcohol solution, scientists from the Zhejiang University have developed a material to repair and recover tooth enamel. Composed of calcium phosphate ion clusters (CPIC) it is applied as a precursor layer to induce the growth of enamel, mimicking the natural crystalline structure and orientation. This biomimetic tactic exhibits excellent biocompatibility with native enamel and when CPICs were applied to human teeth, a permanent, precisely replicated layer of tooth enamel was formed in 48 hours. Although in the early stages of development, this strategy for enamel regeneration could possibly change the way teeth are restored forever. Yet, detecting actively demineralising tooth enamel as the crystalline structure first begins to break down, still remains the key to preventing disease progression.
When demineralisation occurs, free calcium ions are released and collect in hydration shells – small pores and pockets, which increase as the crystalline structure of the tooth enamel begins to degenerate. The presence of free calcium ions released from the surfaces of the teeth is indicative of the active status of demineralisation and now, dental professionals have the means to detect this process in the very early, most reversible stages.
The CALCIVIS® imaging system enables dental professionals to see actively demineralising tooth surfaces at the beginning of the caries disease process, long before they reach the cavitation stage. Using a luminescent photoprotein which produces light in the presence of free calcium ions, this innovative visualisation device generates a chair side map of active demineralisation. The CALCIVIS® technology provides practitioners with all the information they need to begin first response preventive therapy to protect and preserve the teeth from further damage. In addition, it enables patients to see ‘hot spots’ or problem areas on the surfaces of their own teeth, which both improves their understanding and encourages their compliance with preventive strategies.
Early detection and prompt treatment are essential in order to preserve natural tooth structure and prevent disease progression. The CALCIVIS® imaging system provides the advanced technology dental professionals need to offer high-quality, minimally invasive, preventive dentistry.
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 Klimuszko E. et a. Evaluation of calcium and magnesium contents in tooth enamel without any pathological changes: in vitor preliminary study. Ondontology. Oct 2019. 106(4) 369-376. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10266-018-0353-6 [Accessed 2nd September 2019]
 Shao C. et al. Repair of tooth enamel by a biomimetic mineralization frontier ensuring epitaxial growth. Science Advances, Aug 2019 5(8) eaaw9569. https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/8/eaaw9569.full [Accessed 2nd September 2019]