Tooth decay is one of the world’s commonest chronic diseases – affecting a third of the world’s population, or more than two billion people.
But could the cure be something that’s already in medicine cabinets around the world – aspirin?
Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have found that aspirin stimulates stem cells in teeth – encouraging teeth to regenerate, the BBC reports.
Prof Ikhlas El Karim of Queen’s University Belfast said, ‘Ideally, what we’re really reporting here is that we’re hoping to be able to develop a therapy that the teeth could repair themselves.
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‘This is going to be gradual, it’s not going to be the end of the filling straight away.’
The research was presented today at the British Society for Oral and Dental Research conference – showing that aspirin enhances the function of stem cells.
The drug – which costs just 1p per tablet – helps teeth to self-repair.
Teeth naturally have a limited ability to self-repair, but cannot repair large cavities.
It’s not as simple as applying the drug to teeth, though, as that would simply wash away, the researchers say.
Professor El Karim said, ‘The next step is to go and try and figure out how you are going to apply the aspirin to the teeth, to regenerate the dentine and to replace the need for fillings.’