One of the most cited fears of going to the dentist to fill a cavity is the pain brought on from the powerful drill. However that might be a thing of the past as dentistry technicians are under development for a drill and pain free cavity filling technology. The technique, developed at King’s College London, essentially reverses decay by using electrical currents to accelerate the tooth’s natural repair process.
During the new process, minerals that are lost during the degradation of a tooth suffering from a cavity are replaced organically, removing the need for filings or drilling. The process is called EAER (Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralisation), and is projected to be made widely available in three years. Professor Nigel Pitts, lead designer for the project at the Dental Institution at King’s College London, believes the way that cavities are remedied today is not healthy. According to Pitts, when a tooth is repaired with a filing, it enters a lifelong cycle of fail and repair, decay and re-drill.
Pitts believes his new technique is not only safer and more effective, but just as affordable as the current process. The method can also be used to whiten teeth as well. Drilling has always been an unavoidable necessity in the process of removing infected material and replacing it with amalgam or composite resin. EAER, alternatively, accelerates the natural movement of phosphate minerals and calcium to the cavity stricken tooth. The process involves two steps. First, the tooth is prepared to receive the electrical currents, then-via electrical current-minerals are pushed onto the the repair site. The tooth is remineralised painlessly, with no injections, drillings, or fillings. The whole process, when optimized, would take only five minutes.
The drill and pain free cavity filling technology is moving along development with a spin-off company, Reminova, moving to commercialize the technology. Reminova is now in the process of seeking investors to develop the new technology. King’s College is part of MedCity, a project created by Mayor of London: Boris Johnson, to encourage entrepreneurship in the London, Oxford, and Cambridge life sciences.
MedCity representative, Kit Malthouse, stated that it’s wonderful to see creative research at King’s College making its way out of the development lab so quickly and being converted into a game changing device in the dental health field. Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in the mouth penetrates the enamel of the tooth and infects the vulnerable soft layer underneath called the dentine. The bacteria eats away at the dentine and creates a cavity, or cavities.
In some cases, the victim of this affliction is so fearful of dental procedures that they refuse to go seek treatment and let the tooth rot and fall out. That is an issue that the developers of the drill and pain free cavity filling technology hope to remedy once the project is no longer under development, but used in all offices. Approximately 2 billion individuals suffer from tooth decay each year, making it one of the most abundant, but preventable, afflictions in the world.
By Andres Loubriel