British scientists have synthesized a material that can help in regeneration of hard tissues like dental enamel and bone to curb and treat tooth decay and sensitivity.
Dental enamel is the hardest of all the tissue present in the body and provides lifetime protection to our teeth from biting effects, acidic food and beverages, and extreme temperatures. In contrast to other tissues, enamel cannot regenerate after it is destroyed, which results in pain and tooth loss in almost half of the world’s population. Replacing lost enamel has been a significant challenge in dentistry.
A New Breakthrough in Dentistry
According to the latest study by scientists at the Queen Mary University of London, this new approach can help produce materials with extraordinary precision and form, which look and function like dental enamel.
Findings from the latest research was published in an article titled “Protein Disorder-Order Interplay to Guide the Growth of Hierarchical Mineralized Structures,” in the Nature Communications magazine.
The researchers used a biopolymer to induce and direct the development of apatite nanocrystals, the primary mineral present in dental enamel and bones.
The materials could be useful in prevention and treatment of various types of dental complications, such as tooth decay or tooth sensitivity (or dentin hypersensitivity).
Enamel Regeneration Mechanism
The mechanism devised by the research team is based on the capabilities of a specific protein material that can trigger and guide the development of apatite nanocrystals at multiple magnitudes. The process resembles the growth of these crystals when dental enamel is formed in our body. This structural organization is vital for the superior physical attributes displayed by natural dental enamel.
Principal author Professor Alvaro Mata mentioned: 'A major goal in materials science is to learn from nature to develop useful materials based on the precise control of molecular building-blocks.'
The lead investigator and dentist, Sherif Elsharkawy, Ph.D., expressed that the outcomes were impressive because the simplicity and versatility of the mineralization process unfold the potential to synthesize materials with features that mimic various hard tissues besides enamel like the bone and dentin.
As such, the mechanism has prospective use in diverse applications in regenerative medicine. For example, acid-resistant bandages can be developed that can penetrate, mineralize, and protect open dentinal tubules of human teeth for treating dentin hypersensitivity.
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Additionally, the study also offers insights into human physiology and pathology, concerning the function of protein disorder.