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BELFAST, UK: According to a new study by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast, aspirin could reverse the effects of dental caries. According to the research, aspirin can enhance the function of dental stem cells, thus aiding self-repair of the tooth—a result that could drastically reduce the need for one of the most common types of dental work. In England alone, the National Health Service pays for about seven million fillings each year.
Researchers combined genomics and novel bioinformatics to identify aspirin as a candidate drug with properties that stimulate existing stem cells in the tooth to enhance the regeneration of the damaged tooth structure. Treatment of stem cells from teeth with low-dose aspirin significantly increased remineralisation and the expression of genes responsible for forming dentine.
According to the study, this new discovery, coupled with the known anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects of aspirin, could provide a unique solution for controlling dental nerve inflammation and pain while promoting natural tooth repair.
Lead researcher Dr Ikhlas el-Karim said, “There is huge potential to change our approach to one of the biggest dental challenges we face. Our initial research findings in the laboratory suggest that the use of aspirin, a drug already licensed for human use, could offer an immediate innovative solution enabling our teeth to repair themselves.”
Caries is the most common dental disease worldwide and places a large financial burden on the NHS. This strain on the system is a particular concern in Northern Ireland, which has the highest prevalence of tooth decay in the UK.
“Our next step will be to develop an appropriate delivery system to test the drug efficacy in a clinical trial. This novel approach could not only increase the long-term survival of teeth but could also result in huge savings for the NHS and other healthcare systems worldwide,” said el-Karim.
The research findings were presented on 7 September at the British Society for Oral and Dental Research Annual Scientific Meeting in Plymouth in the UK.