For years, dentists have been filling cavities with fillings. Yet the time may have come for a new approach. Tooth regeneration is making progressive strides towards becoming the “go-to approach” when treating both cavities and decaying teeth.
The Science Behind It
Our teeth are made up of enamel and dentin. The outer covering is enamel, which is made up of tiny mineral crystals, and underneath lies dentin, a hard clay made up of collagen. Teeth are essentially made up of minerals.
Because teeth are made up of these minerals, they also fall victim to erosion. Various drinks and food (think soda) can help to demineralize the enamel and although the body works to fix the damage, when too much is going on, the bacteria will break through. This produces a cavity.
The Future of Tooth Regeneration
Sally Marshall, professor at the University of California at San Francisco is the leading force behind the possibility of tooth regeneration. Her newest work looks at re-growing dentin in cavity-filled teeth. To do this, she proposes using a calcium-containing solution. Her biggest challenge is finding a way to get the solution to regrow within the dentin.
While this is amazing new work and has wonderful possible applications, it isn’t yet viable. Marshall has a number of years left in her research before your dentist office will begin to carry tooth regeneration solutions. Still, it’s inspiring to think that in just a few years your children or grandchildren could avoid fillings and go straight to tooth regeneration to solve their tooth loss problems. In the meantime, remember that diet and a good oral hygiene regimen are the best tools against preventing tooth loss.