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News / August 26, 2010

Search for hypersensitivity solution heats up

by Guy Hiscott

A promising new approach for treating tooth hypersensitivity, while simultaneously preventing bacteria from causing further harm, has been identified.

In the New York University College of Dentistry study, a coating made from fluoride and zinc ions in a calcium-phosphate matrix proved effective in reversing damage to the tubules caused by Streptococcus mutans.

The coating not only caused the exposed tubules to close again but also prevented Streptococcus mutans from causing further damage.

Co-prinicipal investigators Dr Racquel Z LeGeros, professor and associate chair of biomaterials and biomimetics at the NYU College of Dentistry, and Dr Haijin Gu, chief dentist at Sun-yat-sen University Guanghua School of Stomatology in Guangzhuo, China, compared two groups of dentine samples immersed for 24 hours in a solution containing Streptococcus mutans.

One group was treated with the calcium-phosphate/fluoride/zinc formulation for eight minutes, while the second group received no treatment.

Bacteria multiplied on the untreated samples, but their growth and development was inhibited on the treated dentine. In addition, the treated group had significantly fewer open tubules than the untreated one.

Dr LeGeros, who plans additional testing to confirm the findings, said: ‘Because the calcium, phosphate, and fluoride ions formed a solution that occluded the open dentine tubules, and the zinc ions inhibited bacterial growth and colonisation, our findings suggest that this formulation may represent a tooth hypersensitivity treatment that is less susceptible to the effects of acid than treatments made with potassium oxalate.’

The findings were presented last month at the 2010 annual meeting of the International Association for Dental Research in Barcelona, Spain.