Novel Approach for Enamel Regeneration
Once worn away, tooth enamel does not regenerate. And while many research efforts have been directed at creating a material that mimics enamel, no discovery to date has found one that compares with the composition, fracture toughness, and resistance of natural dental enamel. At least until now, with publication of the paper “Matrix Metalloproteinase-20 Mediates Dental Enamel Biomineralization by Preventing Protein Occlusion Inside Apatite Crystals” in the January 2016 issue of Biomaterials.
Genetic mutations in a certain gene (matrix metalloproteinase-20, or MMP-20) result in thin enamel that easily chips off underlying dentin. The researchers hypothesized that the absence of this gene during amelogenesis results in occlusion of amelogenin in the enamel growth crystals. The results of the study, which was conducted on mice, showed that it is possible — through the mechanism of MMP-20 — to prevent unwanted organic materials from trapping enamel crystals that hinder enamel formation. This mechanism, the researchers conclude, may be key to the creation of novel, more effective restorative materials.