Regeneration of tooth enamel for the first time?

Chinese researchers claim they have managed to grow tooth enamel for the first time. Our Petter Lyngstadaas discusses on Forskning.no whether this is possible or not.

Scientists discover way to ‘grow’ tooth enamel

forskning.no (in Norwegian) presented recently a news article where they show a Chinese research group produced clusters of enamel-like calcium phosphate to solve the problem with enamel regeneration. These Chinese scientists claim that they have managed to grow tooth enamel in the laboratory.

Though enamel is the hardest tissue in the body, it cannot self-repair.  For decades, scientists around the world have been working to find a way to repair tooth enamel, something that has been to difficult. But now, a group of Chinese scientists at Zhejiang University and Xiamen University are announcing that they have made a discovery that brings us  forward.

The group claim to have designed a material that will stimulate the tooth to form new enamel. In the study, published in the journal Science Advances, the researchers describe how they developing a way to produce tiny clusters of calcium phosphate on teeth.

Electron microscope images of human tooth enamel that has been repaired for six, 12 and 48 hours. The blue area is the native enamel; the green is the repaired enamel. Photograph: Zhejiang University/Science Advances

Can treat teeth where there is still enamel

Ståle Petter Lyngstadaas has studied the published paper and discuss the results in this new article presented in  forskning.no. He believes that we must be very careful to become too optimistic for such findings. In the newsarticle Lyngstadaas says that several strategies have already been tested and patented. These method are similar to the one used in the aforementioned study. Lyngstadaas tells that the previous suggested strategies has failed to provide any new products that are in used in dental clinics . He also says that the method used here only simulates the initial stage of caries and that it will be difficult to regenerate tooth enamel where no enamel is present.

- "The technique the researchers use is based on the formation of new crystals that are identical to the substrate on which they grow. This technique is therefore not suitable for repairing large enamel damage", says Lyngstadaas to forskning.no

Lyngstadaas adds that the enamel damage caused to the teeth by the researchers is a very superficial acid damage and that this is most similar to the erosion damage that one get after drinking fizzy drinks. He also points out that the method used by scientists to create the enamel layer is based on the production of crystals from an entirely identical substrate. Therefore, a completely new tooth enamel cannot be made with this method.

- In tooth damage and tooth decay the tooth enamel is often completely gone, and there is therefore nothing to form crystals on. In a dental treatment context, the tests conducted by the Chinese are relevant only to superficial enamel lesions, where there is an early stage caries.

Published Oct. 8, 2019 6:08 PM - Last modified Oct. 11, 2019 3:28 PM