Alzheimer’s research yields dental breakthrough – self healing teeth?

A drug designed to treat Alzheimer’s disease turns out to stimulate teeth to heal themselves, according to a new study published by the Dental Institute at Kings College, London.

Scientists previously found that activating stem cells in a tooth’s pulp will stimulate self-repair for small cracks and holes on the tooth surface. But the new treatment can bring about self-healing in larger holes, even all the way to the tooth’s root.

The tooth still has to be drilled, unfortunately, to remove the cavity. But if the process works, filling can be avoided, along with the risk of future decay around the filling. The teeth can generate new dentine – the mineralised material that protects the tooth from cavities.

The drug, Tideglusib, has already undergone clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease. But its application for tooth repair has so far only been tested on mice.

Researchers placed biodegradable collagen sponges into the mice’s teeth cavities, applying low doses of small molecule glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) inhibitors to the tooth; one of the molecules was Tideglusib. The application stimuated the renewal of stem cells and enabled the tooth cells to regenerate. The next tests will be on rats, whose teeth are four times the size. Human tests are expected some time in 2017.

Check out the Guide To Long Term Care for more information on Alzheimer’s disease.

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