A New Paste that “Heals Cavities”: Too Good to Be True?

pasteConsidering this post been shared more than 37,000 times on Facebook, you, too, may have heard about an “amazing” new dental paste from Japan that purports to “heal” cavities without drilling. Some folks hail it as a “miracle.”

Buzzwords like “new,” “amazing” and “miracle” hook us in. Who wouldn’t want to stop dental decay with a quick fix? But we should be careful that the desire for an alternative to the dental drill not disable our critical thinking when we hear claims that a product can heal cavities, remineralize decayed teeth, grow tooth enamel, allow teeth to self-repair.

For instance, read more closely and you’ll find that this new paste doesn’t promote true self-repair. It’s a synthetic enamel, and there are some important caveats to consider:

  • The paste must be applied by dentist because of its “chemicals.”
  • The paste works best on “microcaries.”
  • The treated tooth will become “whiter” than the natural tooth structure around it.

Dig a little deeper, and you also find that this product contains sodium fluoride in an acidic solution and 35% hydrogen peroxide. The acid dissolves the tooth on which it is applied so the fluoride can bond to the tooth.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know the concern over systemic effects of fluoride. As for the peroxide? Here’s some of what the material safety data sheet has to say:

Very hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant), of eye contact (irritant). Hazardous in case of skin contact (corrosive, permeator), of eye contact (corrosive), of ingestion, . Slightly hazardous in case of inhalation (lung sensitizer). Non-corrosive for lungs. Liquid or spray mist may produce tissue damage particularly on mucous membranes of eyes, mouth and respiratory tract. Skin contact may produce burns. Inhalation of the spray mist may produce severe irritation of respiratory tract, characterized by coughing, choking, or shortness of breath. Prolonged exposure may result in skin burns and ulcerations. Over-exposure by inhalation may cause respiratory irritation. Inflammation of the eye is characterized by redness, watering, and itching. Skin inflammation is characterized by itching, scaling, reddening, or, occasionally, blistering.

The deeper you look, the less wonderful the product sounds. It’s not even available yet and is in clinical trials in Japan only. More testing, says the dentist who developed the paste, is needed to prove its safety. At this time, there are no plans to run trials in the EU or US.

Besides, the truth is, when it comes to microcaries, effective home care – especially flossing with proper technique – can be enough to spur natural remineralization. More extensive decay, however, is a different issue…

Image via Dr. Kazue Yamagishi

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