A great smile is vital for confidence and self-esteem, so it is little surprise that new technologies are regularly being developed to help us keep our teeth in good condition.
One of the latest developments in the dental industry is the arrival of protective peptides.
Researchers working at the University of Leeds have been able to develop a type of paste that can be painted onto teeth and help to protect against decay.
Tooth decay is one of the most common issues dentists see on a daily basis.
According to the NHS, as many as one in three people suffer from tooth decay to some extent, which makes it one of the most common health problems in the UK.
With around one in four children also having some level of tooth decay it is clear that this is going to remain a key health issue for the country in the coming years.
Among the big problems with tooth decay is that there are few symptoms until the decay is already at an advanced stage.
However, sensitive teeth or regular toothache can be a sign of tooth decay, while any grey, brown or black spots on teeth are also symptoms. Bad breath is another common sign of tooth decay, along with an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
It is also true that tooth decay is not just a dental issue, as problems in the mouth often have an impact on general levels of health. Untreated tooth decay can lead to a wide range of serious problems, such as gum disease, dental abscesses and cavities.
How protective peptides work
The good news is that the solution developed at the University of Leeds could help us all to avoid tooth decay in the future.
Naturally occurring molecules known as peptides are used in a paste that seeps into the surface of the teeth and forms a kind of gel.
This then helps to attract calcium to the teeth. Calcium is very good for the condition of teeth, and the peptides help to extract calcium out of saliva and on to the teeth themselves.
Professor Jennifer Kirkham from the school of dentistry at the University of Leeds, says: “We already knew the formula could provide a certain degree of repair with tooth decay. However, we could also see that, in a paste or fluid, it could protect against acid attack.”
Work is still ongoing on the development of these protective peptides, but they are expected to be available at some point within the next 12 months.
The protective ability of peptides was uncovered by a research report published back in 2008.
In the study it was revealed that casein phosphopeptides (CPPs) – which are commonly found in yoghurt – slow down demineralisation in teeth and also promote the remineralization of dental enamel.
The study assessed the impact of CPPs on 80 human molars and the results were clear. Using the peptides resulted in significant changes in weight and calcium titration in the teeth.
Further work on peptides has been carried out by the Leeds Dental Institute in the UK. Colin Robinson, an expert who specialises in biomineralisation, explains that using peptides to improve remineralization is a relatively new innovation in the sector.
“Loss of tooth surface due to erosion related to acidic beverages is important in the younger population,” he says, “while loss due to wear is an inevitable result of retaining teeth in the ageing population”.
Using the theory that peptides protect from teeth decay, Stephen Mann and his colleagues at Bristol University have developed hydrogel mats by using electrospinning. This has the impact of binding together amorphous calcium phosphate with polymer nano and micro-fibres.
When they are exposed to fluoride the mats are transformed into crystalline enamel-like particles, which can then be used directly on a damaged part of the tooth.
Developments such as these involving protective peptides are only going to become more common in the health sector in the near future.
Preventing tooth decay
Of course, prevention is typically better than trying to cure most health issues and that is certainly true in the case of tooth decay.
Avoiding starchy and sugary food and drinks is key to preventing tooth decay, especially between mealtimes or just before going to bed.
The NHS advises using a fluoride toothpaste twice a day to keep teeth clean and in the best possible condition, as well as using either an interdental toothbrush or dental floss at least once a day.
Rinsing with either water or mouthwash immediately after brushing is not recommended due to the fact that this washes away the protective toothpaste that has been applied. Mouthwash should instead be used at a separate time – the NHS advises just after lunch as a suitable opportunity to use mouthwash – with an alcohol-free fluoride product being the best to choose. Antiaging Nutrition supply MinMouth mouth rinse, a healthy, all-natural alternative to commercial mouthwash. Free from alcohol, allergens, and gluten, the vegan-friendly liquid helps neutralises odours whilst rinsing your gums and teeth and leaving your breath peppermint-fresh.
That’s our advice, but let us know what you think in the comments below. The exciting research above is just one avenue that harnesses and explores the power of peptides for regenerative and health uses; for more information on the benefits of peptides, and the burgeoning science behind them, please visit our online peptide bioregulator store, where you’ll find a wide range of products to help boost your health.