Are fillings a thing of the past?
In a previous article we shared the latest innovation in personal dental care, Kolibree, the world’s first Smart Toothbrush. Hot off its heels is another game-changer, … imagine a world without the much-maligned drill required to fix cavities. Well, this could quickly become a reality for our Point Grey and UBC dental patients, and dental care professionals the world over. Just this week The Guardian newspaper reports that “scientist in London have developed a pain-free filling that allows teeth to repair themselves without drilling or injections.” Professors from Kings College Dental Institute in London are behind this extraordinary development.
Before getting into the break-through, it’s good to quickly define what a cavity actually is. For our purposes, a cavity is a hole that forms when a tooth experiences decay, which progressively gets deeper and more destructive over time. Generally speaking, we cite plaque as the usual culprit of tooth enamel breakdown and cavities (amongst other things). To repair the cavity, dentists have traditionally relied on drilling out the area of decay and filling it with a composite resin or silver amalgam.
How the treatment works?
This new approach to treatment uses an electric current to enhance the tooth’s natural ability to repair itself. Here’ a more formal description of the break-through out of Kings College:
“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.”
From a general health and well-being perspective, tooth decay is a common health concern in the developing world. Many significant health complications can be linked directly to oral health; hence, this new method of treatment may have a meaningful health impact beyond just preventative dental care.
When will the technology become available?
Reminova, the tech company formed by professor Nigel Pitts and Chris Longbottom, is currently raising capital to develop and commercialize their device. The technique, referred to as Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralisation (EAER), has an anticipated three-year wait before going to market.
While EAER and the idea of tooth regeneration is truly remarkable, the innovation in dental care doesn’t stop there. The EAER process also will be marketed as a new approach to teeth whitening.
This technology sounds promising, however more information is needed to determine how the bacteria that cause the decay are neutralized. Certainly this looks promising for fractured teeth.
The future of tooth decay treatment does lie in more natural, hard tissue based restorations.
We will continue to urge our patients to stick to a good daily brushing and flossing routine to prevent cavities and other complications. If you are experiencing any significant tooth pain, please give our Point Grey dental clinic a call.
For more on this story, watch this video from the BBC: