Specialist Dental Group has launched an on-going series of blog posts by our individual dental specialists. All views provided are the dentist’s own opinions and are posted on this blog as part of our on-going efforts to educate the public about dental issues and other matters of interest relating to dentistry and healthcare.
Evidence-based clinical practice has been taught for many years now. With the advance of research and computer technology, many things once thought impossible are now a reality in everyday practice. For example, years ago we needed about six to nine months to implant new teeth with a high 90% success rate. Nowadays, we can achieve the same dental implantation with a small fraction of that time frame with what is close to a 100% success rate (nothing in life is 100% certain except death and taxes..!).
On September 17, 2012, the news around the world was that 2 Japanese professors from Kinki University and Osaka University announced that they have developed a new ‘tooth patch» or tooth shell. These tooth patches are made of hydroxyapatite (HA) which is known to be super hard. It is the essential element of our bone and teeth structures. After all, that is how we are supported by our bones.
The Japanese professors said they managed to make them as thin as 0.004mm and stay flexible!! It is mind-boggling to comprehend how a super hard material could be made flexible and thin. This means that those teeth shells could be made to snap on and off our teeth, sort of like our shoes. Imagine we can snap the shell on and off as we wish and our own teeth may never wear out.
Getting a new shell on our teeth to repair damaged teeth is nothing new, we have been able to do that for a many decades now, those are commonly known as dental crowns or caps. However, with these new high-tech ‘tooth patches’, our own teeth would not be worn out or decay with time when we can get a man made shell to protect them. Just like we wear shoes to protect our feet while walking rather than having aching feet after a long day!
What is next? The safety of this material has to be established then we need to establish the effectiveness of the material. This may take years (decades) to accomplish. For the time being, keep your teeth healthy because we can never predict when or whether this magical teeth shells will ever hit the market.
Dr. Ansgar C. Cheng is a Dental Specialist in Prosthodontics (Teeth Replacement) with Specialist Dental Group. He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor with the National University of Singapore. He has a special interest in dental implants, cosmetic dentistry and treatment of medically compromised patients, including cancer patients. For more information about Dr. Cheng, click here