Can a New False Tooth Prevent Tooth Decay?

If you take care of your teeth and gums as you should, you spend several minutes twice a day brushing and flossing. These minutes help prevent tooth decay… but these minutes add up. What if a new tooth – a false tooth printed by a 3-D printer – could prevent tooth decay all by itself? What if the tooth itself killed the bacteria that causes cavities, and what if that meant you didn’t have to brush or floss anymore?

While every kid, ever, is cheering this interesting development – for what kid loves tooth brushing? – this new technology isn’t ready yet.

Researchers in the Netherlands recently developed a 3-D printed tooth that is made from a “new type of dental polymer that has been infused with quaternary ammonium salts”. Basically, this new type of false tooth is made from a material that kills the bacteria that causes tooth decay and cavities.

Don’t worry: you don’t have to start pulling teeth to get this bacteria-killing benefit. In theory, you would only need one of these microbial teeth in your mouth: that one tooth could protect all your teeth from plaque, tooth decay, gum disease, and a host of other dental problems.

For those who are ready to stop their brushing and flossing routine, sorry: There is a still a lot more testing to do. So far, scientists have shown that the tooth, when applied with saliva and Streptococcus mutans (one of the bacteria that causes tooth decay), actually killed all the bacteria. But, they’re not sure if the tooth is strong enough to be used long-term as a tooth.

For that reason, the new material could be used to make a part of other dental implants, such as retainers or braces, or used in toothpaste.

While future dental products may make avoiding tooth decay, cavities and dentures much easier, for now keep on brushing and flossing regularly. And don’t forget those regular dental visits!