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Mussels could help with treatment for sensitive teeth


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.

Mussels could help cure tooth sensitivity


New research has revealed that the natural ‘glue’ used by mussels to attach themselves to rocks could be the cure for sensitive teeth. Scientists have used the sticky secretions to create a compound that could help rebuild areas of enamel that have started to erode over time.

Tooth sensitivity is a huge problem in the UK, with three quarters of the country suffering from it at some stage; there are chewing gums and tooth pastes that can help temporarily but researchers at the University of Hong Kong are hoping to develop a treatment that could restore the minerals and get rid of the problem permanently.

Scientists created a sticky polydopamine that was mixed with calcium and phosphate to reform dentine and enamel. Authors of the research said that the product may provide ‘a simple universal technique to induce enamel and dentine remineralisation simultaneously.’

The breakthrough came when studies last year showed that human teeth are as strong as shark teeth, with an enamel outer layer and an elastic dentine layer beneath; a discovery that experts are hoping can assist in the manufacture and repair of dentures. Professor Matthias Epple – lead author of the original study – said that ‘It would be great if, sometime in the future, one could repair teeth with a material which is more natural than today’s provisional solutions.’

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