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Synthetic Enamel & Is This The Way Forward For Tooth Repair?

 width= Researchers in the UK have now developed a new way to grow materials which could regenerate hard tissues such as dental enamel and even bone. And they are not the only ones. A USA team have been working on the same subject matter.

What is enamel?

Enamel is the hardest tissue in the body and enables teeth to function for a large part of our lifetime - despite exposure to acidic foods, drinks and temperatures both hot and cold. The problem with enamel up to now is that once it wears away, it does not grow back.

Two new studies

  1. This study carried out at Queen Mary University of London has found that a technique can work which grows synthetic materials that emulate dental enamel both in appearance and performance. The Queen Mary team employed “a protein-mediated mineralisation process” where a specific protein triggers and guides the growth of apatite nanocrystals at multiple scales. The mineralisation results in the nanocrystals organising into microscopic prisms that grow in clusters, similar to how natural dental enamel develops. Indentation testing showed the synthetic hierarchical structures, though not quite matching the hardness of human enamel, outperformed both bone and dentine.
  2. In another study, Janet Moradian-Oldak, a professor at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of University of Southern California, has been studying how to coax tooth enamel to regenerate on its own for many years. The process is especially tricky because unlike bone, mature enamel cannot rejuvenate. Tooth enamel is a nonliving tissue. Her team was the first to define the function of an enzyme for preventing protein occlusion inside a crystal, engineering a string of amino acids containing only the parts needed for enamel crystal creation and going on to create a gel that regrows tooth enamel while eliminating pain associated with tooth decay. Still in its early stages and of course to be approved by the FDA, such a gel could be painted onto affected teeth to replace lost enamel.
Two new methods for the future...

Looking after your original teeth enamel

Certain foods can erode teeth enamel, lead to tooth decay or even can chip or damage your teeth.

Here are the top foods to avoid for good dental care:

Acidic foods affect tooth enamel. For example, the acids found in citrus fruits and juices can do damage. If you enjoy citrus at breakfast, it is recommended that they should be eaten or drunk quickly and followed by rinsing with water afterwards. Wait for 30 minutes before brushing your teeth. White bread is not only bad for your health but for your teeth too. When you eat white bread, it gets into your teeth’s gaps and crevices encouraging the spread of bacteria while the white bread’s enzymes are converted to sugar. Sports drinks are even more damaging than sodas. As well as high in sugar, sports drinks are very acidic. Pickles come of course with plenty of acidic vinegar, helping to wear the teeth away. If they are important to you as a food, eat in one go and follow up by rinsing your mouth well. Dried fruits are high in sugar and often get stuck between teeth, inviting extra bacteria. Fresh fruit is safer.

Top foods to include for good dental care

Celery is a good choice because it means you need to chew more to eat it, producing plenty of saliva which acts as the mouth’s bloodstream to keep the tissues healthy while getting rid of food articles and fighting cavities. Carrots and cucumbers will perform the same good action. Chia seeds are rich in the vitamins and minerals essential for healthy teeth including calcium, vitamin A, fiber and phosphorous. Easy enough to add a tablespoon of chia seeds to smoothies or muesli. Coconut oil is such a good fat and so versatile. Pop a tablespoon of coconut oil into your mouth first thing every morning before you eat or drink anything else and keep swishing it around (without swallowing or spitting it out) for 15 to 20 minutes to draw out those toxins that reside in the mouth – while creating a clean bacteria-free environment. We tell you all about oil pulling in our earlier post. There are other ways that coconut oil can help you care for your teeth too. Organic dairy products help to remodel the enamel of your teeth. Cheese, yogurt and milk can be some of the best foods and drinks for the mouth because of all the calcium they contain which helps prevent tooth decay by keeping your teeth healthy. Cheese in particular contains casein which is a protein that strengthens and repairs tooth enamel. Also, consider trying kefir which is a low-sugar, fermented product. Including regular fatty fish in your diet helps to prevent periodontitis which is a gum infection that damages the soft tissue and bone that supports the tooth. While it can normally be prevented through good oral hygiene, fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like wild-caught salmon and sardines, are helpful too.

Back to basics

We all know about taking care of our teeth with twice daily brushing and flossing and regular visits to the dentist but perhaps need a gentle reminder.