HEFEI/HONG KONG, China: Numerous methods have been investigated to manage dental caries, which is, along with other oral diseases, the most widespread non-communicable disease, as reported by the World Health Organization.
According to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016, 2.4 billion people are affected by caries of their permanent dentition and 486 million children suffer from caries of their primary teeth. Now, researchers have developed a bioactive peptide that coats the tooth surface, helping prevent new cavities and heal existing ones.
The research team, from the University of Hong Kong and Anhui Medical University in Hefei, sought to develop a two-pronged strategy to prevent and treat dental caries. This involved, firstly, preventing colonisation of the tooth surface by plaque-forming bacteria and, secondly, reducing the dissolution of tooth enamel and increasing remineralisation.
The researchers based their coating on the natural antimicrobial peptide H5. Produced by human salivary glands, H5 can adsorb on to tooth enamel and destroy a broad range of bacteria and fungi. To promote remineralisation, the team added a phosphoserine group to one end of H5, which they assumed could help attract more calcium ions to repair the enamel than natural H5. Next, they tested the modified peptide on slices of human molars.
Compared with natural H5, the new peptide adsorbed more strongly to the tooth surface, killed more bacteria, inhibited their adhesion and protected teeth from demineralisation. Contrary to expectations, however, both peptides promoted remineralisation to a similar degree. According to a press release by the American Chemical Society, the modified peptide could be applied in the form of a varnish or gel to the teeth to prevent dental caries in the future.
“Biocompatibility tests revealed the safety of the synthesised bioactive peptide. In summary, the synthesised bioactive peptide could be applied safely to prevent dental caries and effectively induce in situ self-healing remineralisation for treatment of the decayed tooth,” stated the researchers.
The study, titled “Constructing an antibiofouling and mineralizing bioactive tooth surface to protect against decay and promote self-healing”, was published on 15 January 2020 in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.