Researchers at Queens University have found that aspirin may help reverse tooth decay by encouraging certain cells found in teeth to produce the hard substance known as dentine.
The over-the-counter medicine, usually used to treat headaches, was used in low doses to treat stem cells found in teeth when the novel discovery was made. Dentine is the substance usually damaged by tooth decay.
Queens lecturer and principal 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.”
She said the discovery could lead to “huge savings” for the NHS, who provide approximately 7 million fillings each year in England alone.
“Our next step will be to develop an appropriate delivery system to test the drug efficacy in a clinical trial,” Dr Ikhlas said.
“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.”
The findings will be presented at the British Society for Oral and Dental Research annual conference, due to take place in Plymouth later today.