Recently released research from Queen’s University in Belfast shows that aspirin can help stimulate stem cells in teeth, which could enhance tooth regeneration. Aspirin is primarily used as a painkiller due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Its popularity is in large part due to its easy availability and affordability. If further research proves it to be helpful in preventing or reversing tooth decay, these factors could help those who typically struggle to afford or gain access to preventative care.
First, researchers analyzed data and determined that aspirin could possibly help induce the gene signature required to create new dentine. Then, they used aspirin to treat stem cells in a petri dish. They concluded that there was genetic and material evidence to support their hypothesis. The next step in their research will be to find a way to apply it to the tooth so that it can be slowly released over time. Simply placing aspirin on the tooth would not be effective, according to the researchers, and would quickly be washed away.
While this new study is promising, the best course of action is to prevent cavities from forming, said Dr. John Pappas, DDS, of Arcadia Dental Arts in Phoenix, Arizona.
“Prevention is the best policy,” he said. “Once a cavity forms, filling that cavity becomes the best option to stop the decay from getting worse through possible infection and even affecting the nerves.”
There are currently no scientifically proven methods for reversing decay. That’s why so much public awareness focuses on ways to avoid developing cavities in the first place.
The American Dental Association focuses on five main ways to help prevent tooth decay.
It’s no surprise that brushing teeth twice a day is the No. 1 way to prevent cavities and decay. However, according to research conducted for National Smile Month each year by the Oral Health Foundation, one in four adults don’t brush their teeth twice a day, and one in 10 admitted they regularly forgot to brush their teeth at all. The odds of developing tooth decay increase 33 percent for those who only brush once a day.
Floss Every Day
It really isn’t enough to just brush every day, said Pappas.
“Flossing should be a vital part of your oral hygiene routine,” he said. “Flossing removes plaque and bacteria from areas of the mouth that a brush just can’t always reach.”
Eat a Balanced Diet
Prioritizing a healthy and balanced diet including many fruits, vegetables and protein along with drinking lots of water can actually make huge strides when it comes to oral health, according to Pappas.
“Science has proven that proper nutrition can help improve overall health exponentially,” he said. “Eating foods that decrease inflammation or that strengthen the immune system are great for your oral health.”
Supplement With Fluoride
Many communities supplement their water with fluoride to help with oral health. In addition, most dental practices offer fluoride treatments to help protect teeth from decay.
Visit Your Dentist
The ADA recommends visiting a dentist regularly to maintain oral health. A professional cleaning removes built-up plaque that can’t be removed with a regular brush. Regularly scheduled visits also give providers a better chance of catching anything concerning before it becomes a major problem.