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Could Glass Toothpaste Help Repair Damaged Teeth?

A research team from Queen Mary University in London have developed a new "bioactive" glass designed to help repair decaying teeth. The glass dissolves quickly to form chemicals that mimic tooth minerals to help restore the damaged teeth. The toothpaste has already been launched by the university's company, BioMin Technologies Ltd., under the name BioMinC. Last year, the team developed a fluoride-containing glass toothpaste called BioMinF. The new product, BioMinC, uses chloride-containing glass as an alternative for those who choose to forego fluoride toothpaste or for those in areas where the water is already fluoridated.

Tooth Decay Affects Millions Every Year 

According to a study published in the Journal of Dental Research, a third of the world’s population has untreated tooth decay. Over 2.4 billion people worldwide are affected by tooth decay, and 190 million more are expected to experience it each year.

It’s even more concerning because it’s preventable, said Dr. David Buck, DDS, a leading dental professional in Lynnwood, Washington.

"It’s a major health problem," he said. "Tooth decay leads to cavities, infections and disease, not to mention the financial, educational and career-based implications."

Tooth Decay in Children 

The study indicated 621 million children suffer from untreated decay in their baby teeth, which leads to pain, the risk of future dental problems in their permanent teeth and barriers to their education. Pew Research indicates that children with oral health problems often miss three times more school than those with healthy mouths. Even if their school attendance isn’t affected, dental pain can affect their ability to eat and sleep, causing a host of problems including difficulty concentrating, daytime drowsiness and behavioral problems.

Tooth Decay in Adults

The New York Department of Health estimates that Americans miss more than 164 million hours of work a year due to oral health problems and dental visits. While some of those hours are due to routine cleanings and checkups, it’s a high number with economic repercussions. Statistically, research shows that economically disadvantaged Americans and minorities suffer the most. Few health care plans include dental coverage, and those that do often have high premiums.

Tooth Decay Leads to Tooth Loss 

Gum disease is the No. 1 cause of tooth loss in adults, according to Buck.

"Decay leads to gum disease, which in turn leads to tooth loss," he said. "It’s a vicious cycle that can absolutely be broken with preventative dental care."

Gum disease occurs when pockets of infection form in the spaces of gum that surround each tooth. This happens because of bacteria from plaque buildup over time. In the beginning stages of gum disease, professional treatment can reverse the damage. Once the infection spreads deep enough, bone loss occurs and the damage becomes permanent.

"Preventative dental care both at home and through professional dental exams and cleanings is imperative to stop tooth decay, which in turn prevents changes to one’s quality of life even in childhood," Buck said. "Not only does it save money in the long run, it saves you from unnecessary pain and discomfort."

 

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