A new device pioneered at King’s Dental Institute, which enables decayed teeth to repair themselves, could soon be used globally. The pain-free remineralisation process is an alternative treatment to injections, drills& fillings, reducing – and potentially removing – the need for these invasive techniques. The device has attracted worldwide media attention and could be brought to market in the next few years.
With 2.3 billion sufferers annually, dental caries is one of the most common preventable diseases globally. Tooth decay normally develops in several stages, starting as a microscopic defect where minerals leach out of tooth. Minerals continue to move in and out of the tooth in a natural cycle, but when too much mineral is lost, the enamel is undermined and the tooth is said to have developed a caries lesion (which can later become a physical cavity). We normally treat established caries in a tooth by drilling to remove the decay and filling the tooth with a material such as composite resin or amalgam.
The new device takes a different approach: By accelerating the natural process by which calcium and phosphate minerals re-enter the tooth to repair a defect, the device boosts the tooth’s natural repair process. Dentistry has been trying to harness this process for the last few decades, but the King’s breakthrough means the method could soon be in use in the dental surgery.
The two-step method first prepares the damaged part of the enamel outer layer of the tooth, then uses a tiny electric current to ‘push’ minerals into the tooth to repair the damaged site. The defect is remineralised in a painless process that requires no drills, no injections and no filling materials. The technique is known as Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralisation (EAER).
Watch this space!