Good news for those who fear the dentist’s chair: Australian Nathan Cochrane at the Cooperative Research Centre for Oral Health Sciences has created a liquid that can re-grow tooth enamel, effectively curing cavities while you sleep.
It sounds awesome, but it only works if you catch the cavities before they start—long before any sign of a hole appears in the tooth. The liquid works because of a protein known as casein phosphopeptide, which can be isolated from cow’s milk. When this substance is mixed with calcium, phosphate, and fluoride ions, it forms a special liquid that can attach and seep into parts of the tooth enamel that need strengthening, helping any damaged enamel to re-grow. A tray will be used to keep saliva out, which can prevent the liquid from hardening properly inside damaged teeth.
Cochrane’s dental invention should be available within the next five years if the clinical trial goes as planned. And while growing totally new enamel from scratch is not possible now, with stem cell treatment, it may soon be.
Image: flickr/ nmoira