Tooth decay begins when acid produced by bacteria in plaque dissolves minerals in the teeth causing microscopic holes to form. As the decay progresses these micropores increase in size and number.
Amalia Aggeli, Jennifer Kirkham, and co-workers, University of Leeds, UK, have developed a peptide-based fluid that can be painted onto the tooth’s surface at the first signs of decay. The fluid fills the micropores and forms a gel. The key peptide, P 11-4, assembles into fibers which provide a scaffold that attracts calcium. This regenerates the tooth’s mineral from within and gives a non-surgical repair process that is entirely pain-free.
The team hopes this technique will be available in dentists’ surgeries within two to three years.