Tooth enamel is one of the few tissues in the body that cannot be repaired, which is why tooth decay has become such a common health problem. Fillers are actually the only treatment widely used today, but now researchers in China have developed a new peptide-based coating that can prevent tooth decay.
Human saliva is a natural protector against tooth decay, but it has limitations, especially in the case of a high-sugar diet. So the researchers in the new study set out to help some antimicrobial peptides in saliva.
They focus on a peptide called H5, which forms a protective film on the teeth that kills bacteria and fungi. To improve its function, the team added a phosphatine group at the end of the peptide. It is thought that this will enhance H5’s enamel repair capacity by attracting more calcium ions to the region.
The team tested their modified peptides using human tooth slices and compared them to natural H5. They found that the enhanced version protects the teeth from demineralization (loss of enamel). And they are better adhered to the surface of the tooth than natural versions, preventing bacterial biofilms from forming and killing bacteria. Interestingly, however, it does not appear to exceed conventional H5 in terms of tooth remineralization.
The team says the synthetic peptide could eventually be made and applied to a coating in the form of a gel. If used after brushing, it provides longer-lasting protection against tooth decay.
The new study was published in the Journal of Chemical Society-Applied Materials and Interfaces.