Many people who harbor fear of the dentist carry their phobia into their adult years because of the extreme pain caused by the dentist's drill, which they experienced during childhood visits to the tooth doctor.
British researchers at the King's College in London are developing a technology that would be less invasive and painful by having the decayed tooth repair itself. They are developing the Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralisation (EAER), which speeds up calcium and phosphate minerals' natural movement into the damaged tooth.
It works by first preparing the damaged area of enamel and using tiny electrical current to push minerals into the repair site. This process remineralises the tooth painlessly, minus the need to place fillings, inject or drill which is done to remove decaying and infected material. Once these materials are removed, the dentist then replace it with fillings such as amalgam or composite resin.
Professor Nigel Pitts from King's College admits that the present way of treating teeth is far from ideal because the tooth enters a cycle of drilling and re-filling. But the new technology, expected to be available within three years, would be kinder to the patient and better for their teeth and cost-effective as well.
The college has tapped a spin-off company called Reminova, based in Perth, Australia, to commercialise the research. The firm is currently seeking investors for the new technology.
The pain of dental drills has caused an estimated 25 per cent of people to develop a fear of going to the dentist, and it is that fear which the new technology seeks to address by removing the pain in treating decayed teeth.
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