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Hate painful cavity fillings? There could be a different way to repair teeth, study says

A study published in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering found that “peptide-enabled formulations” — a natural method to bring back tooth enamel while warding off cavities — can be used daily to keep teeth clean and cavity-free.
A study published in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering found that “peptide-enabled formulations” — a natural method to bring back tooth enamel while warding off cavities — can be used daily to keep teeth clean and cavity-free. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Nicole Sikorski/Released

If you hate getting cavities filled at the dentist’s office, a new study has some good news for you.

You could use a product that has peptides made from amelogenin, a protein involved with the development of enamel on your teeth, according to the study published in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering. Scientists behind the study say the treatment naturally protects your teeth and can be used daily as a way to prevent them from decaying.

Researchers tested six different treatments for repairing teeth, the study says, but “only the peptide-alone sample resulted in remineralization ... resembling the structure of the healthy enamel.” Other treatments like fluoride provided some mineral growth — but not enough to be classified as healthy enamel.

Mehmet Sarikaya, study lead author and University of Washington professor, said the treatment could be provided either over the counter or in clinical settings. He added that the study shows “remineralization guided by peptides is a healthy alternative to current dental health care.”

Researchers behind the study suggested that peptide-based treatments can be used in toothpastes and gels as a part of a daily treatment. This preventative care should be safe for people of all ages, according to the University of Washington.

It works because the peptide derived from the amelogenin protein attaches to the teeth, “biomineralizes” and promotes the growth of minerals found in tooth enamel, the study says. One treatment can spur the growth of 10 to 50 micrometers of new enamel.

“These peptides are proven to bind onto tooth surfaces and recruit calcium and phosphate ions,” Deniz Yucesoy, study co-author said.

Because of these findings, researchers say peptide treatment “sets the foundation for future development of biomimetic products and treatments for dental health care.” And the University of Washington wrote that it “may cure cavities.”

It’s not the first study to hail a new method of fighting off cavities. Researchers from the University of Florida say that taking a probiotic pill that contains A12, a form of Streptococcus, can ward off the bacteria that can give you a painful toothache.

And a study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that a pill used for Alzheimer’s disease can also keep help prevent cavities.

Fewer children in the U.S. are actually getting cavities, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It found in 2016 that 43 percent of people aged 2 to 19 have had a cavity — a drop from the 50 percent of people who said the same in 2012.

But race still plays a role in who comes down with a nasty toothache, as noted by CNN. Fifty-two percent of Hispanic youths, 44 percent of black youths and 42.6 percent of Asian youths had cavities, the CDC found. That was true for just 39 percent of white youths.

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