People with sensitive teeth know that taking a sip of an ice cold drink can cause a painful jolt in the mouth. There are different approaches to treat this condition but the treatment usually does not last very long. Research appearing in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces shows the development of a new material with an extract from green tea that can help treat sensitive teeth and even help prevent cavities.
Tooth sensitivity occurs when the protective layers of teeth are worn away and exposing the bony tissue called dentin. Dentin contains microscopic hollow tubes which allow hot and cold liquids and food to contact the underlying nerve endings in the teeth leading to pain. Unprotected dentin is vulnerable to having cavities form around it. Placing a mineral called nanohydroxyapatite in these tubes has often been used to treat sensitive teeth. However the material does not hold up well to brushing and grinding and erosion or acid produced by bacteria that causes cavities.
The researchers encapsulated nanohydroxyapatite and a green tea polyphenol, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), in silica nanoparticles. This material can stand up to wear and tear and acid from cavity bacteria. EGCG has been shown in previous studies to fight Streptococcus mutans, which forms biofilms that cause cavities. The researchers tested their approach on extracted wisdom teeth. This showed the material plugged the dentin tubules, released EGCG for at least 96 hours, stood up to tooth erosion, the effects of brushing, had low toxicity, and prevented biofilm formation. Based on their research and results, the researchers feel that encapsulated nanohydroxyapatite with EGCG could help prevent tooth sensitivity and cavities. Of course it seems the researchers only tested their approach on wisdom teeth that were already removed, so it will require some additional studies and testing with real teeth still in the mouth to verify their approach.
Reference: Jian Yu and et al, Development of Epigallocatechin-3-gallate-Encapsulated Nanohydroxyapatite/Mesoporous Silica for Therapeutic Management of Dentin Surface, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2017.