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What’s Growing On? New Gel Restores Decayed Teeth to Health

  • October 14, 2010

COLLEGEVILLE, WILLIAMSPORT AND PHILADELPHIA, PA – As a Collegeville, PA dental implants specialist, Dr. David DiGiallorenzo witnesses daily the effects of tooth decay on patients’ smiles.

So when he learned recently about a gel being tested that can help decayed teeth grow healthy new tissue, he was cautiously optimistic.

“This could be the magic bullet,” said PA periodontist Dr. DiGiallorenzo. “Having a tool at our disposal to restore teeth to their healthy state could be a game-changer.”

News of this gel was published in the Daily Mail in July. The gel contains melanocyte-stimulating hormone- or MSH- and is being developed by scientists in France, the article stated.

Researchers have reported that in lab studies, decayed teeth have been restored to their original state in four weeks. In the studies, MSH was mixed with poly-L-glutamic acid, a chemical sometimes used to transport drugs inside the body because it can withstand harsh environments such as the stomach that could destroy medicines before they get a chance to work.

Testing was performed on dental pulp fibroblasts taken from extracted human teeth, and on mice with dental cavities, the Mail UK article stated.

The idea of testing this came from evidence that MSH stimulates bone generation and since teeth and bone are similar in structure, scientists with the National Institute for Health and Medical Research in Paris decided to determine whether MSH could stimulate growth in teeth, according to the article. The study’s findings were published in the American Chemical Society journal.

“Having a treatment option such as this could help alleviate the dental fears that so many patients experience,” said the one of the best Collegeville, PA periodontists, adding that it likely won’t be available to the public for another three to five years. “Taking away the need for needles and drills and replacing it with a painless treatment that potentially offers a permanent solution to tooth decay is exciting.”

Professor Damien Walmsley, the British Dental Association’s scientific adviser, said although the gel could be an interesting new development, it is unlikely to repair teeth that suffer from extensive damage caused by decay.

“Early detection will be key in ensuring that this new gel works, should it ever reach the public,” said DiGiallorenzo, a Collegeville, PA periodontics expert.

Scientists also have developed a tongue gel for battling bad breath and preventing tooth decay.
This treatment was developed by Meridol and consists of a tongue scraper, gel and mouth wash.

Tooth decay is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth, according to the American Dental Association. The bacteria in plaque feed off of drinks and foods that have sugars and starches in them, and produce acids that damage tooth enamel over time. The sticky consistency of the plaque keeps the acids in contact with the teeth. Given enough time, the acids can break down the tooth enamel, causing a cavity to form.

Tooth Decay Statistics
MSH has the potential to improve American oral and dental health statistics, DiGiallorenzo said. Between 2001 and 2004, the most current data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 27 percent of adults between the ages of 20 and 64 had untreated tooth decay. About 30 percent of children between ages 6 and 19, and almost 20 percent of children between 2 and 5 years old suffered from untreated tooth decay.

© 2010 Master Google and Dr. David Digiallorenzo.