Around the world, dental cavities are becoming an increasing source of tooth pain and discomfort. About 35% of the world’s population suffer from the harmful effects of dental caries at least once in their life. Enamel is the hardest tissue in our entire body. It protects our teeth from acidic food, biting forces, extreme temperatures, and many more factors.
Unlike other body tissues, enamel cannot regenerate on its own. Once lost, the layer of dentin gets exposed which leads to pain and sensitivity of the tooth. Currently, the only way to treat a cavity is to excavate the decay completely from the tooth and fill the area with a durable dental material such as amalgam, composite or glass ionomer cement.
To address this challenge, scientists have done extensive research on producing a regenerative gel that can regrow the lost tooth structure and save the patient from the misery of tooth drilling. The regenerative gel allows synthetic fillers to build the lost tooth structure and allows the dentist to craft a pearly white natural smile. So, what is the mechanism of tooth regeneration? Well, read on further to understand the concepts of this revolutionary approach in regenerating the tooth structure.
What is the role of regenerative gel?
A regenerative gel is a soft gel that consists of a string of amino acids or short peptides that has the property to create enamel crystals. The synthetic aprismatic enamel formed by the regenerative gel is twice as hard as the natural layer of enamel on the surface of the tooth.
The gel is carefully painted on the tooth surface where enamel regeneration is required. For example, the eroded tooth surface, early cavities, tooth erosion or any area that lacks the protective layer of enamel.
The critical role of a regenerative gel is to exploit the disordered proteins and guide the process of mineralization in a controlled manner to naturally repair and recover the lost tooth structure. (1)
The bioinspired synthetic enamel is a minimally invasive approach to help patients restore their teeth without undergoing tooth drilling. Filling without drilling is the new mantra in dentistry.
How does the process of tooth regeneration work?
The concept of regenerative gel development was primarily inspired by an enzyme called matrix metalloproteinase – 20 (MM-20). This enzyme is typically found in the teeth.
MM-20 is released during the early stages of enamel formation. It works on the principle of chopping amelogenin proteins, accelerating the process of enamel crystal formation. (2)
Recognizing the functions of MM-20 in biomineralization, scientists produced an amelogenin-chitosan hydrogel which can repair early tooth decay or enamel loss by growing synthetic enamel-like crystals.
This gel also has antimicrobial and adhesion properties which can heal cavities by up to 70%.
Other on-going studies have revealed a different approach where the gel components stimulate stem cells from the pulpal tissue that allow regeneration of the enamel over time. However, definite evidence for this study has not been confirmed yet. (3)
What are the benefits of using regenerative gel?
About 92% of the adults in the United States suffer from various dental issues like tooth decay, teeth grinding, gum recession and disappearance of enamel due to acidic food and beverages over a lifetime.
The regenerative gel can create robust attachment of synthetic enamel crystals and eliminate the threat of secondary caries on the surface of the tooth. (4)
Other potential advantages of a regenerative gel may include –
- Property of the gel to produce enamel like growth
- Property of the gel to remove proteins that decrease the enamel strength
- Repairing tooth decay
- Eliminate the need for root canal treatments
- Since this method doesn’t require tooth drilling, it saves the tooth from nerve and blood vessel damage that can happen due to extensive drilling of the tooth
- Rebuilding the tooth structure lost due to secondary activities like acid erosion, poor oral hygiene and gum recession and exposure of tooth surface.
- A minimally invasive technique as compared to tooth drilling and filling
Toothpaste Vs. Regenerative gel for cavity prevention
An anti-carious or fluoride toothpaste has to be used regularly for at least two times a day to strengthen the enamel and prevent tooth decay. A regenerative gel is not like toothpaste.
Regenerative procedures require a dab or a thin film of the hydrogel to be placed on the affected surface of the tooth which then works its way to heal the surface of the tooth from within and rebuilds the enamel within a short period.
Take away message
Regenerative gel technology is the first of its kind to be discovered by research scientists in helping patients to repair their lost enamel.
Nobody likes the sound of tooth drilling; regenerative gel technology is a minimally invasive procedure which requires adequate painting of the gel on the affected tooth surface.
With a lot of various studies going on to produce the best method of tooth regeneration, the discovery of amelogenin-chitosan hydrogel has been proved to be the most effective till date. (5)
This hydrogel exploits the amelogenin proteins and allows mineralization of synthetic enamel-like crystals that are twice as hard as compared to natural tooth enamel.
The regenerative gel comes with the added benefit of preventing the need for any invasive dental procedure like root canal treatments and allows the patient to heal their teeth conveniently.
This innovation in the field of dentistry is a sign of relief for all those patients who dread the dental drill. Consult your dentist to get more information about regenerative gels and live a healthy, drill free life.