King’s College London has developed a new dental filling to repair cavities without the need for drilling and the pain that comes along with it. The new technique assists teeth to repair themselves and is called Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralisation (EAER). It speeds up the natural movement of calcium and phosphate minerals to the damaged tooth and involves a two step process. The first prepares the tooth for treatment. The second uses tiny electric currents to push minerals like calcium and phosphate to the repair site and remineralize the tooth.
The process represents a radical shift in the way cavities will be treated in the near future. Tooth decay occurs as a result of deficits taking place in the natural recycling of minerals in and out of teeth, leading to the eventual breakdown in the enamel structure. The current form of treatment is for dentists to drill into the decayed area, remove the diseased material, and replace it with a composite resin or amalgam to protect the tooth.
The innovation could be available to the public within three years. Professor Nigel Pitts (King’s College London’s Dental Institute) explained that the new process was kinder to the patient, better for their teeth, and as cost-effective as current dental treatments. The device not only prevents tooth decay but also whitens teeth in the process. King’s College is a member of ‘MedCity’ which is a joint partnership to promote entrepreneurship in the London-Oxford-Cambridge life sciences. Kit Malhouse, the chairman of MedCity, expressed his delight that the breakthrough research was being developed into new devices so quickly. A spinoff company, Reminova, was set up this month and is already in the process of searching for private investment to commercially develop the EAER technology into new products and practices according to ‘The Guardian’.
Over 2.3 billion people are estimated to face some degree of tooth decay annually, with bad dietary habits being a major contributory factor. The technique will transform the remodeling of teeth and, being painless, will cause no anxiety to the patients. It will also do away with the toxins associated with mercury and amalgam fillings. In conjunction with good nutrition and the advances being made in stem cell technology, we are one step closer to having perfect teeth. With regard to stem cell technology, Harvard’s Wyss Institute has already pioneered a laser treatment that stimulates stem cells to differentiate into dentin (the layer of tooth underneath the enamel) over a period of about 3 months.