Scientists in China are hopeful that they have found a cure for sensitive teeth, using the humble mussel; researchers at the University of Hong Kong and the Anhui Medical University have developed a ‘glue’ based on the way molluscs attach themselves to wet surfaces, which could help with enamel erosion by sealing up the exposed dentine tubules that cause sensitivity.
The team coated acid-eroded human teeth with a protein-based chemical similar to that which mussels produce, the teeth were then immersed in a mineral solution; the results showed that the ‘glue’ helped to form mineral crystals on the surface of the teeth and the inner dentine layer.
The study showed that eroded teeth that were coated with the ‘glue’ re-mineralised more effectively after they were immersed in a calcium and phosphate solution for a week, alongside teeth that were not treated with the new product. Researchers concluded that the organic chemical polydopamine, found in the mussel’s powerful adhesive, changes the tooth surface to stimulate mineral formation in the inner dentine layer.
Dr Cao Ying, a PhD dentistry student at the University of Hong Kong, said that ‘in the future, we may develop products with the chemical to be applied on sensitive teeth, or dentists might use it as a treatment.’ She also added that the minerals could be supplied from the patient’s own saliva or included in a mouthwash.