UW School of Dentistry

UW researchers find no-drill way to heal cavities

Tooth schematic of healing peptides
A University of Washington research team that includes School of Dentistry faculty members has designed a natural product using engineered proteins called peptides to rebuild tooth enamel and heal cavities in their early stages.

The peptide product actually adds new layers to tooth enamel in a process called remineralization. It can be used in toothpaste, gels, or other forms. And while fluoride toothpastes and mouthwashes strengthen existing tooth enamel, they do not actually add any to the tooth.

The team’s findings were published in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering. The team is led by Dr. Mehmet Sarikaya, professor of materials science and engineering and adjunct professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Department of Oral Health Sciences. Other journal co-authors include Dr. Greg Huang, chair of the School of Dentistry’s Department of Orthodontics, and Dr. Sami Dogan of the School of Dentistry’s Department of Restorative Dentistry.  Read more about the new peptide product.