Researchers from King's College London just announced a new approach to fixing cavities that requires no injections, no drills and no pain. It's just a little blast of electric current that encourages the tooth to self-repair. And they say it will be on the market in three years.
The new technique sounds confusingly simple. Cavities form when the natural minerals in the protective enamel degrade, and the tooth starts to decay. This new method enhances the body's natural ability to restore those minerals with ones found in saliva or fluoride. The dentist simply applies a small electric current to "push" minerals towards the cavity. The process, dubbed Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralisation (EAER), is entirely painless and takes about the same amount of time as current drilling techniques.
While those who developed the approach say it will be available in UK dental offices within the next three years — partly because electric current is already used in some procedures — that sounds a bit like what dentists said a few years ago when they announced a pain-free cavity treatment using a unique fluid that attracts calcium. And that sounds a bit like the thin plastic applicator developed by a dental-materials manufacturer that promised quick and easy cavity repair a year before that.
But, hey, a little bit of progress in the much feared field of dentistry can't be a bad thing. Let's just hope this is progress that actually makes your next visit to the tooth doctor less uncomfortable. Now if only there were something to protect us against crazy dentists. [KCL via Washington Post]