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posted by Woods on Wednesday June 18 2014, @11:35PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
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."

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  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Gaaark on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:19AM

    by Gaaark (41) on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:19AM (#57204) Journal

    Almost 2 hours have gone by since the article comes up and not a single comment???

    Okay... I'll bite! :)

    --
    --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channelling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Tork on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:24AM

      by Tork (3914) on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:24AM (#57208)
      Cracking jokes with a story like this? I don't think you understand the cavity of the situation.
      --
      Slashdolt Logic: "23 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
      • (Score: 3, Funny) by Gaaark on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:28AM

        by Gaaark (41) on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:28AM (#57211) Journal

        Ahhh... you found the 'hole' in my seriousness... my jaw drops in your honour, sir!

        --
        --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channelling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
        • (Score: 2) by Tork on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:54AM

          by Tork (3914) on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:54AM (#57219)
          The tooth hurts, doesn't it!
          --
          Slashdolt Logic: "23 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
          • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 19 2014, @05:32AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 19 2014, @05:32AM (#57280)

            2:30

            ( tooth - hurty )

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Gaaark on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:21AM

    by Gaaark (41) on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:21AM (#57206) Journal

    Is this going to put an end to the dentist 'drilling' his secretary too?

    --
    --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channelling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:26AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:26AM (#57210)

      Confucius say: secretary becomes permanent fixture when screwed on desk.

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Gaaark on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:23AM

    by Gaaark (41) on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:23AM (#57207) Journal

    Time to 'cap' this off...

    --
    --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channelling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Silentknyght on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:40AM

    by Silentknyght (1905) on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:40AM (#57214)

    So, where do the minerals come from? Are they present in some reserve from within the device, or are they drawn from elsewhere in your body?

    And, how "fast" is this device? I notice that the word "accelerated" is carefully used. Somehow it seems unlikely to be as quick as your "standard" cavity filling at the dentist.

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Thursday June 19 2014, @02:09AM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 19 2014, @02:09AM (#57223) Journal
      Picture yourself with something bulbous wrapping around your affected tooth, attached by a tube+wires to a back-carried 20l (5 gallons) reservoir of heavy mineralized solution, pumped and electrolized into your tooth by some goldberg contraption powered by your walking; ah, yes, for about an year.
      Not pretending this is the correct answer but, at least, is this in line with your question?

      Somehow it seems unlikely to be as quick as your "standard" cavity filling at the dentist.

      Since a tooth filling addresses the effect, it is likely that you'll need a new filling after some years. The above described solution would address the cause and keep your tooth intact.
      Ummm.. not interested? Not even to know (and show others) you have nerdly and principially sound lifestyle? Still no? You sure? (well, some might [wikipedia.org]).

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    • (Score: 4, Informative) by Reziac on Thursday June 19 2014, @02:45AM

      by Reziac (2489) on Thursday June 19 2014, @02:45AM (#57240) Homepage

      It sounds like it's glorified electroplating (calcium IS a metal, after all). And since the area to be repaired is generally fairly small, it probably won't take very long. Watch this:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8Xo43sfLgY [youtube.com]

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Twike on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:42AM

    by Twike (483) <lure@comiclisting.info> on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:42AM (#57215)

    Having broken with tradition and read the article, I do not understand how this will replace fillings. It sounds like it's a solution for "re-strengthening" or "re-mineralizing" teeth, up to the point of possibly depositing a new veneer of enamel on viable tooth substrate, but what about times where the cavity is literally a hole in the tooth with a bulk of missing material? How long would repair of a fairly decayed tooth that needs more than a little extra enamel but is still in "filling" territory take to repair via this method? Can this be used to "un-do" existing fillings as they need to be replaced?

    When reading my list of questions, do you feel it needs "Tune in next week, same Bat-time, same Bat channel", or did you read it in that style?

    • (Score: 1) by Gertlex on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:55AM

      by Gertlex (3966) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:55AM (#57222)

      I imagine they're glossing it over. I suspect it really just helps those who get annual x-rays, perhaps. I know my two weak spots that were treated as cavities showed up on an xray without ever bothering me.

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 19 2014, @02:21AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 19 2014, @02:21AM (#57230)
      For existing damage, it could be combined with something like this [harvard.edu]. Certainly not something you'll get at your next visit, but may be possible in your lifetime.
    • (Score: 2) by broken on Thursday June 19 2014, @02:50AM

      by broken (4018) on Thursday June 19 2014, @02:50AM (#57241) Journal

      From the articles, it does sound like this just repairs demineralized teeth. If caught and treated before a cavity forms, this can prevent the need for fillings. After a cavity forms, drilling is first used to remove the demineralized parts of the tooth after which the hole is filled. So although the cavity would still be filled in the traditional way, this treatment could replace the drilling prior to filling the cavity.

      I can see how theoretically a treatment similar to this could also fill in cavities by depositing new minerals layer by layer, but the crystalline structure of this material would likely be different and may not be as effective as standard fillings with regard to strength or adhesion. If their treatment is actually capable of filling teeth in this way, I would have expected it to be mentioned in the article.

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 19 2014, @03:28AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 19 2014, @03:28AM (#57250)

        I'm not a dentist, but my understanding is that the main cause of filling failure is a difference between the thermal expansion rates of the filling and the tooth. A better match there might be preferable to a stronger material. Either way, this is nowhere near as ready for wide use as the summary makes it seem.

    • (Score: 2) by CoolHand on Thursday June 19 2014, @11:13AM

      by CoolHand (438) on Thursday June 19 2014, @11:13AM (#57361) Journal

      Right, it sounds great for my kids and grandkids, but I'm not holding out much hope that its going to magically replace my huge fillings or regrow my teeth where I just have stubs covered by crowns..

      --
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    • (Score: 2) by Rivenaleem on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:04PM

      by Rivenaleem (3400) on Thursday June 19 2014, @01:04PM (#57400)

      I want to hear more progress on the method of re-triggering the growth of the teeth by using lasers to activate the stem cells. That sounds more promising than this method.

  • (Score: 2) by Ken_g6 on Thursday June 19 2014, @04:14AM

    by Ken_g6 (3706) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 19 2014, @04:14AM (#57258)

    I had a dental appointment today to get a filling. I couldn't get numb.

    I have another appointment in two weeks. I'm afraid that still won't be enough time to commercialize this.