Many of our Biscayne area patients, just like dental patients around the world, suffer from tooth pain. This can be quite annoying when rather than feeling soothed by a nice hot cup of coffee or tea, you find yourself wincing in pain. But, tooth pain sufferers may have hope on the horizon.
The tooth pain is typically caused by worn tooth enamel. The enamel would normally insulate the tooth nerve from temperature changes, but when it is missing, hot soup and ice cream can be excruciating. Fortunately, a team of scientists are developing a new biomaterial that can theoretically rebuild worn tooth enamel, restoring this insulator against pain.
The scientists working on the biomaterial detailed their research in the journal ACS Nano. The team is led by Chun-Pin Lin, and the team of research colleagues tested the biomaterial’s efficacy on dogs. They note in the article that tooth sensitivity is one of the most common complaints among dental patients, meaning a product such as this is desperately needed. Not only can tooth sensitivity cause sharp pains while eating or drinking, it can also lead to more serious dental problems because it arises when the tooth’s enamel has degraded. This degradation exposes tiny, porous tubes in the tooth structure. These tubes both allow the hot and cold sensations to reach the nerve and often trap food particles, which can lead to tooth decay.
Current treatments, such as toothpastes for sensitive teeth, simply working by blocking up the porous tubes. Unfortunately, this seal is superficial and wears out through normal eating and brushing. As a result, Lin’s team wanted to find a more durable, permanent or semi-permanent solution to this very common condition. The result of their research is a paste based on the materials found in teeth. These include calcium and phosphorus. The paste is applied directly to the teeth and, at least with the dogs on which it was tested, they discovered that it plugged the exposed tubes much more thoroughly, deeply, and for a longer period of time than other treatments.
Lin and team believe the depth of the treatment could be the key to its success. This anchors the biomaterial more firmly in the damaged enamel, helping to keep it in place much more securely. It also appears to provide better relief to tooth sensitivity.
No word yet on when this product will hit the American consumer market, but it will probably be a few years until it gets past the FDA approval process. While this may seem a long wait for those suffering with tooth pain today, it may be well worth the wait if the researchers’ claims prove to be true.