London: The whine of the dentist`s drill may soon be silenced, as scientists claim to have found the secret of a "completely painless" filling by identifying a material that can repair decaying teeth within weeks.
The "filling without drilling" method, devised by a team at Leeds University`s Dental Institute in the UK, involves mimicking the conditions that promote the original growth of enamel.
Tooth enamel forms around protein molecules --and the scientists made their breakthrough by reproducing the natural protein in a liquid that can be painted on to a tooth.
Teeth start decaying when acids from mouth bacteria cause microscopic holes in enamel. But when the protein solution is applied to the tooth, it immediately soaks into these holes and forms a scaffold of protein where the enamel starts to regenerate.
Within weeks, the enamel layer is restored, claimed the researchers.
"The results that have now been analysed show there is a clear benefit, clear repair of those decayed lesions within a month of a single application of the material and the results are highly significant," lead researcher Professor Jennifer Kirkham was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
A Swiss company has licensed the technology for tests worldwide, and it is hoped that it will be developed for widespread use in dental surgeries.
Professor Paul Brunton, from Leeds Dental Institute, said: "Patients are nervous of coming into the dentists. Only half of the population go on a regular basis because of they
are nervous of having dental treatment.
"So the fact that it is a completely painless treatment, I think will bring more patients into the care of dentists, which is a good thing."