King's College London researchers have found a method of stimulating the stem cells inside of teeth [kcl.ac.uk] in order to generate new dentine mineral, potentially reducing the need to use man-made materials to treat cavities:
A new method of stimulating the renewal of living stem cells in tooth pulp using an Alzheimer's drug has been discovered by a team of researchers at King's College London. Following trauma or an infection, the inner, soft pulp of a tooth can become exposed and infected. In order to protect the tooth from infection, a thin band of dentine is naturally produced and this seals the tooth pulp, but it is insufficient to effectively repair large cavities. Currently dentists use man-made cements or fillings, such as calcium and silicon-based products, to treat these larger cavities and fill holes in teeth. This cement remains in the tooth and fails to disintegrate, meaning that the normal mineral level of the tooth is never completely restored.
However, in a paper published today in Scientific Reports, scientists from the Dental Institute at King's College London have proven a way to stimulate the stem cells contained in the pulp of the tooth and generate new dentine – the mineralised material that protects the tooth - in large cavities, potentially reducing the need for fillings or cements.
Promotion of natural tooth repair by small molecule GSK3 antagonists [nature.com] (open, DOI: 10.1038/srep39654) (DX [doi.org])