Fillings Without the Drill
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Fillings Without the Drill

Whoever came up with the expression, “grin and bear it”, obviously wasn’t thinking of a dental drill, because there’s no grinning through that!

True, but soon you may be able to. Scientists have developed a fluid that, when applied to a cavity, enables the tooth to repair itself.

That’s amazing, because normally, a dentist has to drill away the decay, and then refill it with dental material. Not treating a cavity can lead to a toothache and maybe loss of that tooth.

Bacteria in the mouth are the culprits of tooth decay. They live in a film called plaque that forms on and around teeth. When these bacteria metabolize starch or sugar, they excrete acids that break down the minerals that make up teeth, creating microscopic holes on the surface.

Over time, these holes increase in size and number, allowing bacteria to work their way through the enamel, invade the softer dentin beneath, and then penetrate the pulp that contains the nerve and blood supply for the tooth.

But you don’t have to wait until that happens to see the dentist, especially with the new treatment. This “wonder” fluid, containing a protein called P 11-4, is brushed on. It seeps into any microscopic hole and turns into a gel.

This gel acts as scaffolding that attracts calcium, which regenerates the decayed area naturally and painlessly.

A test with a small group of adults with tooth decay was able to reverse the damage.

What’s surprising is the researchers are not sure why this treatment works.

Scientists have always assumed that, once teeth erupt from the gums, they lose all ameloblasts, the cells responsible for the minerals that form teeth. Without them, it’s unknown how P11-4 is able to stimulate the natural remineralization of the tooth.

Researchers are planning a study with a much larger group of patients. If successful, P11-4 could be in your dental office within two to three years.


For more information…

Filling without drilling: Pain-free way of tackling dental decay reverses acid damage and rebuilds teeth
This article from ScienceDaily, one of the Internet's most popular science web sites, gives an overview of the University of Leeds P 11-4 research study.

The Four Types of Teeth and How They Function
Your teeth and the structure of your mouth play important roles in your ability to eat and speak and stay healthy.

Mouth and Teeth
A very nice page offered by KidsHealth, a wonderful source of information for parents and kids about a variety of health issues.

Cavities and Fillings 101
This page provides a nice diagram of the parts of a tooth, as well as detailed information on cavities and the procedures used to fill them.

Dental Pulp and Innervation
Everything you ever wanted to know about dental pulp!