University of Washington Research Team Finds New Way to Heal Cavities

Dentists who catch cavities in their early stages may eventually be able to use a new peptide product developed at the University of Washington to heal them.

The product works by adding new layers of tooth enamel through remineralization. According to a University of Washington press release, the research team working on the product was able to capture “the essence of amelogenin—a protein crucial to forming the hard crown enamel—to design amelogenin-
derived peptides that biomineralize and are the key active ingredient in the new technology. The bioinspired repair process restores the mineral structure found in native tooth enamel…. The peptide-enabled technology allows the deposition of 10 to 50 micrometers of new enamel on the teeth after each use. Once fully developed, the technology can be used in both private and public health settings.”

Researchers expect the product can eventually be applied as a toothpaste, gel or perhaps in another form. It’s expected to be safe for both children and adults.

Details about the discovery were published in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering in March. The research team was led by Dr. Mehmet Sarikaya, professor of materials science and engineering and adjunct professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Department of Oral Health Sciences. Dr. Greg Huang, chair of the School of Dentistry’s Department of Orthodontics, and Dr. Sami Dogan of the School of Dentistry’s Department of Restorative Dentistry, were listed as co-authors of the article.