Some people hate the dentist so much that the smell of latex alone is enough to swear off condoms and have children. Okay, maybe you’re not that rabid an anti-dentite, but you’re no fan of the dentist and the odds are good neither is your kid. That’s fine, new research out of King’s College London gives you both hope for the future. One day your kid could get cavities treated without ever having to hear (or feel) that damn drill. Happy National Children’s Dental Health Month, indeed.
The paper, published in Scientific Reports, asserts a new “novel, biological approach” to cavity treatment that uses a drug typically reserved for Alzheimer’s disease, or a GKS-3 inhibitor. The specific claim is that the drug can stimulate the renewal of stem cells in teeth and cause cavities to fix themselves. See, while your chompers are actually capable of regenerating a small amount of dentine — not the gum, but the hard tissue that makes up most of a tooth — it’s not enough to offset the decay and damage that causes a cavity. So dentists have to drill, baby, drill, past perfectly good dentine to fill the cavity with cement. The most common side effect, aside from the pain, is that you hate them forever.
Depending on how old your kid is and how long it takes Big Dental to get on board, they might not have to endure the same struggle. This noninvasive method would allow dentists to affix a biodegradable sponge soaked in the drug to the cavity, and then wait 6 weeks for stem cells to do their work. That said, the treatment has only been successfully tested on mice so far, and the only thing your kid has in common with them is a love of cheese. So it could be a while. Until then, play it safe and have them keep brushing those suckers like a champ.