Combined treatment takes a bite out of tooth decay

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treating tooth decay
Photo: lukianenko 123rf

Current treatments do not sufficiently control biofilm—the main culprit behind dental caries—and prevent enamel demineralisation at the same time. This dual dilemma becomes particularly pronounced in high-risk populations where the onset of the disease can be both rapid and severe.

Now, a study by a team of US researchers has unveiled an unexpected synergy in the battle against dental caries.

The research—led by Hyun (Michel) Koo of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Dental Medicine in collaboration with David Cormode of Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine and School of Engineering and Applied Science—revealed that the combination of ferumoxytol (Fer) and stannous fluoride (SnF2) could point at a potent solution against dental caries. Their findings are published in Nature Communications.

“Traditional treatments often fall short in managing the complex biofilm environment in the mouth,” Dr Koo said.

“Our combined treatment not only amplifies the effectiveness of each agent but does so with a lower dosage, hinting at a potentially revolutionary method for caries prevention in high-risk individuals.”

Their findings include the ability of Fer to stabilise SnF2, the heightened catalytic activity of Fer when combined with SnF2, and the formation of a protective Fe/Sn/F-rich film on tooth enamel, which can serve as a shield against further demineralisation. What’s more, this combined therapy doesn’t disrupt the ecological balance of the oral microbiota and has no adverse side effects on the surrounding host tissues.

“What excites us most about these findings is the multi-faceted approach to caries prevention,” Dr Cormode said.

It’s not just about inhibiting bacterial growth or protecting the enamel; it’s a holistic method that targets both the biological and physico-chemical aspects of dental caries.”

The researchers also noted that, beyond this protective and proactive measure, an intriguing secondary benefit surfaced. Many children with severe tooth decay also suffer from iron deficiency anemia. Using Fer might address the dental and anemia concerns simultaneously.

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