Do you have an uncontrollable sweet tooth that you’re worried is negatively affecting the health of your teeth? Well, scientists are working on a breakthrough “sweet” that is comparable to a breath mint or lozenge, except that consuming it will actually support your dental hygiene rather than degrade it.
To accomplish this, researchers from the University of Washington developed a genetically engineered protein building block and coated the lozenge with it. While the user sucks on the sweet, the protein building blocks are supposed to bind to their teeth, adding a tiny layer of fresh enamel. The team is preparing to administer clinical trials to test their creation, and if it works, it could be the first treatment that will regrow enamel instead of simply preserving and supporting the enamel the user has left.
The sweet has been tested on teeth extracted from humans, pigs, rats, and even some live rats, and the results were successful. The preclinical work indicates that one sweet per day is enough to protect tooth enamel from normal wear and tear. The team believes that a second sweet could reintroduce a few micrometers of new enamel to the teeth, which would reverse existing damage.
If the sweets work the way the researchers believe them to, then production will expand to include toothpaste and gels that will revolutionize dental care as we know it because it will shift the focus from preserving enamel to restoring it. Even whitening strips and bleaches that are designed to make teeth seem healthier in some cases may actually break down the enamel and exacerbate the damage which will eventually reveal the yellowish layer of dentin that lies below.
The researchers report that each study will take two weeks and that the live clinical trials are expected to last no longer than three months.