Fight tooth decay: THIS unexpected natural substance could protect YOUR teeth
Experts at the University of Illinois’ Chicago College of Dentistry, USA, found that grape seed extract can help to strengthen the tissue behind a tooth’s enamel.
The scientist claims that the breakthrough could prevent patients from needing fillings, and also boost the strength of the fillings themselves.
Dr Rob Wain, UK dentist, said the study could give people the best chance yet of keeping their teeth for life.
Grape seed extract – a byproduct of the red wine making industry which can be purchased from health food shops – has long been linked to health benefits such as improved heart function and better circulation.
Now the new study’s lead author Ana Bedran-Russo, associate professor of restorative dentistry, said the extract can also be used to increase the strength of dentin, ‘which comprises the majority of the calcified extracellular tissue of teeth, forming the layer just beneath the hard external enamel.’
Improving that part of the tooth won’t just prevent decay but it can also increase the longevity of composite-resin fillings, which currently have a lifespan of just five to seven years, experts have revealed.
Dr Bedran-Russon, who published the findings in the Journal of Dental Research, said: “Dentin is mostly made of collagen, the main structural protein in skin and other connective tissues.
“Resins have to bind to the dentin, but the area between the two, or the interface, is a weak point, causing restorations to breakdown.
“When fillings fail, decay forms around it and the seal is lost.
“We want to reinforce the interface, which will make the resin bond better to the dentin. The interface can be changed through the use of new natural materials.
“The stability of the interface is key for the durability of such adhesive joints, and hence, the life of the restoration and minimising tooth loss.”
Dr Bedran-Russo explained how that combinations of plant-based oligomeric proanthocyanidins – which are flavonoids found in most foods and vegetables, including extracts from grape seed – and interlocking resins, bond to dentin more securely, possibly preventing tooth decay.
Dr Rob Wain, founder of the Dovetail Bespoke Dental Solutions in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, welcomed the research.
He said better bonding ability will help restore not just broken teeth, but shattered patient confidence.
Dr Wain said: “The result of this new study improves our chances of being able to rebuild teeth with porcelain and resin restorations, when teeth are very broken down.
“In these instances where people have run into severe problems with their teeth, they typically suffer an extreme loss of confidence and become quite withdrawn.
“Now this research suggests we’ll have a better chance of rebuilding patients when things have gone horribly wrong.
“It could be another string to the dentist’s bow when it comes to saving teeth, rather than having to lose them.”
Dr Wain said he suspects the breakthrough could also be particularly useful in patients whose teeth have been dissolved through acid reflux.
He explained: “We often see cases where people have worn their teeth down through an excess of acid reflux from their stomach.
“It occurs in patients who have eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia, but we also see it with people who simply suffer indigestion over a long period of time.
“There’s also a condition called ‘GORD’, aka Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. When people lie horizontally at night during sleep, they get acid reflux and it dissolves their teeth without them knowing about it.
“The tooth’s enamel is eroded and it exposes the dentine underneath. And it can be extremely challenging to then glue repairs to that dentine.
“Anything that can help to make this glue stronger is going to be of enormous benefit.
“The principal we use nowadays is that we try to rebuild teeth by bonding to them – glueing back the bits that are missing. You might have lost it from tooth decay or walking into a door.
“In the past we would have drilled teeth down so that we can put crowns onto them.
“But by using glue instead there’s more tooth remaining for the future and the remaining tooth is actually much stronger.
“You’re giving people a better chance of keeping their teeth for life.”