Rather than soothe and comfort, a hot cup of tea or cocoa can cause people with sensitive teeth a jolt of pain. But scientists are now developing a new biomaterial that can potentially rebuild worn enamel and reduce tooth sensitivity for an extended period. They describe the material, which they tested on dogs, in the journal ACS Nano.
Chun-Pin Lin and colleagues note that tooth sensitivity is one of the most common complaints among dental patients. Not only does it cause sharp pains, but it can also lead to more serious dental problems. The condition occurs when a tooth’s enamel degrades, exposing tiny, porous tubes and allowing underlying nerves to become more vulnerable to hot and cold. Current treatments, including special toothpastes, work by blocking the openings of the tubes. But the seal they create is superficial and doesn’t stand up to the wear-and-tear of daily brushing and chewing. Lin’s team wanted to find a more durable way to address the condition.
The researchers made a novel paste based on the elements found in teeth, namely calcium and phosphorus. They applied the mixture to dogs’ teeth and found that it plugged exposed tubes more deeply than other treatments. This depth could be the key, the researchers conclude, to repairing damaged enamel and providing longer-lasting relief from tooth sensitivity.