Research at Queen’s University has found aspirin helps regenerate the decayed tooth by stimulating the stem cells in teeth.
Tooth decay, leads to the inflammation of the tooth nerve, causing toothache. In 2016, a report by The British Dental Association said that 72% of 15 year old have dental decay in Northern Ireland compared to 44% in England and 63% in Wales. Tooth decay is usually caused by a building up of plaque bacteria which produces acid and weakens the enamel of the teeth.
Aspirin helps teeth recover from damage unlike covering it up with fillings. Fillings may need to be replaced many times during the lifetime of the tooth.
The most common drug used as painkiller is Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) from many years. Because of it’s anti-inflammatory action, it relieves headache, menstrual pain and muscle aches.
The natural regenerative abilities of teeth is limited. It creates a thin band of dentine, a layer just below the enamel. But when the inner dental pulp becomes exposed, the dentine cannot repair a large cavity.
Prof Ikhlas El Karim, a senior lecturer in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast said “Ideally, what we’re really reporting here is that we’re hoping to be able to develop a therapy [so] that the teeth could repair themselves,”
“This is going to be gradual, it’s not going to be the end of the filling straight away.”
On Thursday at the British Society for Oral and Dental Research annual conference, the research findings are presented which show that aspirin can enhance the function of those stem cells, thus helping self-repair by regenerating lost tooth structure. The researchers also say that aspirin is already a licensed drug and that will help the development of the treatment.
All the collated information from previous research data was used to identify the reactions of aspirin as a compound that can induce the gene signature needed to generate new dentine. Then QUB scientists treated stem cells in a Petri dish with aspirin and found genetic and also material evidence that it can produce dentine.
Further Dr El Karim elaborated “The next step is to go and try and figure out how you are going to apply the aspirin to the teeth, to regenerate the dentine and to replace the need for fillings.”
“You need to put it [on the tooth] in a way that it can be easily released over a long period of time, if you put an aspirin now on a cavity, it’s going to be washed away,”
“We are not encouraging that, there is a scientific way to go about this, so that we produce a final product that can be used by a dentist, not by a patient.”
“The next step is to work with our pharmacy colleagues to try to develop a vehicle to put it into the teeth, after that clinical trials.”
“We are not really talking about 10 or 20 years time, it will probably be in the near future that it could be tried in a clinical trial with patients,” she said.
“There is huge potential to change our approach to one of the biggest dental challenges we face. This novel approach could not only increase the long-term survival of teeth, but could also result in huge savings for the NHS and other healthcare systems worldwide.”