Dental fillings have been around for a long time. So long, in fact, that it’s hard to say with confidence when and where they were first used. In 2010, Archaeologists discovered fillings made out of beeswax in a cave near Trieste, Italy, estimated to be about 6500 years old. Other discoveries date the filling back 7500-9500 years. The filling most of us think of, composed of metals such as gold, tin, silver, and others, was first used in the 19th century, and continues to be the most common treatment for cavities today.
Now, however, there may be a new treatment on the horizon. Recently, a bioengineer named Paul Sharpe at King’s College London, and his colleagues discovered a fascinating approach to cavities which they tested on mice. Though this treatment has not yet been cleared for human testing, if it proves successful, it may just be one of the most important dental advancements in 50 years.
What Are They Working On?
Our bodies have the amazing ability to repair themselves after injury by utilizing stem cells. Much like our joints or skin, our teeth can also repair themselves. Stem cells located in the tooth’s surface can thicken enamel, and regrow tissue. Sharpe and his team had a hypothesis that if he could somehow utilize these stem cells in a different way, they would be able to perform incredible tasks such as regrowing tooth particles after a cavity.
To experiment, Sharpe’s team drilled holes in the teeth of mice then soaked them with collagen sponges that can stimulate stem cells in the mouth. What they found was that, in most cases, the technique restored the rodent’s teeth.
When Will This Be Available?
Unfortunately, research into this technique is early, and testing and approval as a viable treatment may take years. So until then, the best treatment is preventing cavities before they happen.
How To Prevent Cavities
There are three key steps you can take to preventing cavities: diet, oral hygiene, and regular checkups. Most cavities are caused by an excessive buildup of cavity-causing bacteria inside the mouth. This bacteria feeds on sugars and starches, using this food sources to reproduce. When this bacteria feeds on sugar, it then produces an acidic byproduct that eats away enamel and causes cavities.
Eating a balanced diet low in sugar is a great way to prevent cavities, and so is brushing and flossing. The American Dental Association suggests you brush and floss twice daily to rid your mouth of cavity-causing bacteria.
If you haven’t seen a dentist in sometime, you should schedule an appointment. By seeing a dentist regularly, you can guarantee that small oral problems don’t become bigger and more costly