Few things conjure up more fearful memories than the whirring sound of a dentist's drill. Now thanks to a new, noninvasive dental breakthrough, it may soon be possible to get a filling without the drilling, according to Science Daily.

 

Scientists at the University of Leeds have developed a peptide-based fluid that is painted onto the surface of a decaying tooth. The fluid seeps into any cavities and stimulates the tooth to regenerate itself.

 

"This may sound too good to be true, but we are essentially helping acid-damaged teeth to regenerate themselves. It is a totally natural nonsurgical repair process and is entirely pain-free too," said professor Jennifer Kirkham of the university's Dental Institute, who led development of the new technique.

 

Of course, the technology is based in science, not magic, but it may seem miraculous to anyone who views the dentist's drill as a medieval torture device that has somehow persisted into modern times.

 

Here's how it works: The fluid contains a peptide known as P 11-4 which is capable of assembling into a fibrous gel. After seeping into the cavities and micro-chasms of the tooth, the fluid essentially forms a scaffolding that encourages calcium and other minerals to latch on within the tooth. Basically, it allows the tooth to fill itself — a pain-free, noninvasive method of tooth repair.

 

The gel has been tested on a small sample size of adults with encouraging results, demonstrating that it is effective in reversing the early stages of tooth decay.

 

"If these results can be repeated on a larger patient group, then I have no doubt whatsoever that in two to three years time this technique will be available for dentists to use in their daily practice," said Leeds professor Paul Brunton.

 

"The main reason that people don't go to the dentist regularly is fear," Brunton said. "If we can offer a treatment that is completely noninvasive, that doesn't involve a mechanical drill, then we can change that perceived link between dental treatment and pain. This really is more than filling without drilling; this is a novel approach that enables the patients to keep their natural teeth!"

 

Also on MNN: