Researchers are working on a breath mint that rebuilds your tooth enamel while it whitens your teeth.
Human teeth mainly consist of pulp, dentin, cementum, and enamel. Enamel is the strongest and hardest of all those components. It consists of hydroxyapatite crystals, a form of calcium phosphate.
Researchers at the University of Washington have created a lozenge that contains a genetically engineered peptide, or chain of amino acids, along with phosphorus and calcium ions.
The peptide is derived from amelogenin, the key protein in the formation of tooth enamel, the tooth’s crown. It is also key to the formation of cementum, which makes up the surface of the tooth root.
Each lozenge deposits several micrometers of new enamel on the teeth via the peptide, which is engineered to bind to the damaged enamel to repair it while not affecting the mouth’s soft tissue.
The new enamel produced by the lozenge is whiter than what tooth-whitening strips or gels produce.
It has another distinct advantage: Conventional tooth-whitening treatments rely on hydrogen peroxide, a bleaching agent that can weaken tooth enamel after prolonged use. The lozenge, on the other hand, strengthens, rebuilds, and protects teeth.
The researchers have already tested the lozenge on extracted teeth from humans, pigs, and rats. They are now preparing to launch clinical trials.
“We have three objectives in the clinical trial,” Professor Sarikaya said. “First, demonstrate efficacy. Second, documentation. Third, benchmarking – seeing how the whitening effect compares to existing commercial treatments.”
The trials are expected to last no more than three months.