Scientists Work on Developing a Hydrogel for Tooth Enamel Regeneration

Despite being the hardest material in the body, dental enamel is unable to regenerate itself when it wears off due to overconsumption of acidic foods and drinks, cavities or excessive brushing.

But, dental enamel regeneration may be possible in the nearest future.

According to Ostrow Professor, Janet Moradian-Oldak, she’s been creating a specific hydrogel which can aid the growth of an enamel-like tooth surface and restore the mineralization of the dentin.

Regeneration of Tooth Enamel May Be Possible

This patented hydrogel is made with chitosan-amelogenin peptide.

Amelogenin is a substance which is used for the building of tooth enamel in both humans and animals. Peptide is a chain from amino acids.

Moradian—Oldak received 3 grants to keep up with her work. With one grant, she will be able to test the usage of amelogenin-derived peptides in the gel.

She notes that the short peptides, like the one she uses, have several advantages over the longer ones. That is, they’re less expensive and the process of getting FDA approval is easier. The peptides could be put into a gel and applied onto eroded teeth.

She’s also discovered that the peptide is able to regrow the aprismatic-like layer of the teeth. The research team will now need to test if this hydrogel will work well for the dentin remineralization.

With the second grant, they’ll be focused on understanding the structural biology of the tooth enamel whereas the third one is an exploratory proposal. The idea is to use chemistry methods to produce a material which will be similar to the properties of enamel.

Artificial Cavity Creation

In order to test the hydrogels, the scientific team used a diamond saw and sliced wisdom teeth into uniform thin discs and then painted them with a nail polish, a clear one.

Then, they left a small part unpainted. Afterwards, they put the slices in acid to demineralize the exposed parts and stimulate the formation of lesions or artificial cavities.

To see how the gel helps in the promotion of new enamel growth, they placed it onto the lesions and put the tooth in artificial saliva made from calcium phosphate.

Oldak explains that they don’t plan on jeopardizing dentistry jobs because even though if this patent becomes an available treatment, we would still need to go to regular dentist checkups.