SEATTLE, US: Existing treatments for dentine hypersensitivity, including desensitisers and dentinal tubule blockers, offer only temporary relief for patients. A permanent solution would be one that provides lasting occlusion of the exposed dentinal tubules and mineralisation of the peritubular dentine. A team of researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle has developed a means of achieving just that. Their solution has shown promising results and can be used in various oral care applications.
“We see patients with hypersensitive teeth, but we can’t really help them,” said co-researcher Dr Sami Dogan, associate professor of restorative dentistry at the university, in a press release. “We have all these repair options available in the market, but they’re all transient. They focus on treating the symptoms and not addressing the root cause. I see my patients after a couple of weeks, several months, again coming to my practice complaining about the same issue,” he explained.
To address the issue of dentine hypersensitivity, the researchers used a specifically tailored amelogenin-derived peptide which binds to calcium and phosphate ions, foundational components of tooth mineral, to construct new mineral micro-layers on the exposed dentine. This process was designed to be biomimetic, resembling the process by means of which teeth are developed in the body.
When testing the mineral layers, the researchers observed that the peptide bonded well to the dentine surface by attracting calcium and phosphate ions, forming a hydroxyapatite mineral layer. The resulting layer not only occluded the dentinal tubules but also promoted dentine repair by remineralising the surface, resulting in a well-integrated and long-lasting layer.
Furthermore, the mineral layer displayed notable hardness, and the researchers suggested that the layers are capable of enduring the mechanical and thermal stresses typical of the oral environment.
Different design and delivery methods
Commenting on how the peptide might be applied, co-researcher Dr Hanson Fong, an assistant teaching professor of materials science and engineering at the university, said: “There are lots of different design and delivery methods.” In preclinical trials, participants were given a dental lozenge composed of a core of calcium and phosphate enveloped in a peptide-infused flavouring. In addition, the team designed peptide-based formulas for products such as mouthwashes, dental gels, tooth whiteners and toothpastes.
The researchers concluded that their peptide-based remineralisation procedure “could provide a foundation for the development of highly effective oral care products leading to novel biomimetic treatments for a wide range of demineralisation-related ailments and, in particular, offers a potent long-term solution for dentine hypersensitivity”.
The study, titled “Biomimetic dentin repair: Amelogenin-derived peptide guides occlusion and peritubular mineralization of human teeth”, was published on 13 March 2023 in ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering.