from the making-dentists-slightly-less-scary dept.
The dreaded whirring and grinding of dental drills could soon become a thing of the past as the Guardian reports that scientists at King's College London have developed a new pain-free filling that allows cavities to be repaired without drilling or injections. The tooth-rebuilding technique also does away with fillings and instead encourages teeth to repair themselves.
Around 2.3 billion people are believed to suffer from tooth decay every year, making it one of the most common preventable diseases in the world. Cavities start as a microscopic defect where minerals leak out of the tooth and the enamel is eventually undermined. The new treatment, called Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralisation (EAER), accelerates the natural movement of calcium and phosphate minerals into the damaged tooth by first preparing the damaged area of enamel, then using a tiny electric current to push minerals into the repair site. "The way we treat teeth today is not ideal. When we repair a tooth by putting in a filling, that tooth enters a cycle of drilling and refilling as, ultimately, each 'repair' fails," says Professor Nigel Pitts. "Not only is our device kinder to the patient and better for their teeth, but it's expected to be at least as cost-effective as current dental treatments. Along with fighting tooth decay, our device can also be used to whiten teeth."