Dental occlusions, or cavities, are the number one dental problem facing American adults today- with nearly 90% of people between the ages of 20-39 possessing at least one filling in their teeth. But when it comes to treating cavities, very little has changed since the 1830’s when the first amalgam fillings were used- that is, until now. Recently, a team of scientists at King’s College in London made headlines after finding success treating cavities with a new drug in development for the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease- and their findings could change how we treat cavities forever. Wilmington, NC’s Dr. Michelle Simpson explains.
Though it hasn’t even hit the market yet, the drug Tideglusib is already causing quite a stir in the medical and dental communities- for its ability to help both Alzheimer’s patients and surprisingly, regrow the dentine in the teeth of laboratory mice. Recently, a group of researchers at King’s College in London set out to discover if the stem-cell-encouraging drug Tideglusib can be used to help more than Alzheimer’s patients. To conduct the study, researchers drilled small holes in the teeth of test animals and then filled those holes with tiny, biodegradable sponges soaked in the drug Tideglusib. As the teeth absorbed the Tideglusib, the sponges dissolved, and the holes in the teeth healed shut on their own. "This is important because unlike with fillings that simply act as a semi-permanent patch which re-fills the damaged area of the tooth, Tideglusib healed the damaged teeth- eliminating the need for fillings entirely," explains Dr. Simpson.
Next up for Tideglusib is more clinical trials- this time with actual cavities- not just holes drilled into healthy teeth. If the King’s College team is able to demonstrate success with tooth decay, then human trials will likely follow, and hopefully someday in the near future, Tideglusib will be approved for use in treating cavities. In addition to trials for the treatment of dental occlusions and Alzheimer’s disease, the drug is also in testing for use in patients with Myotropic Dystrophy and teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
So, what does a dentist think about Tideglusib potentially healing cavities? "It would be wonderful," says Dr. Simpson. "I actually think it would help patients take better care of their teeth because they would be less afraid of getting fillings or having teeth extracted, and less afraid to visit their dentist in the first place. If I were to tell a patient ‘if we catch your cavity before it has a chance to worsen, we could heal it’ I think they’d be a lot more likely to come in at the first sign of a problem. Instead of waiting until the pain is unbearable, and losing the tooth."