Combined treatment takes a bite out of tooth decay

The sting of a toothache or the discovery of a cavity is a universal dread. Dental caries, more commonly known as tooth decay, is an insidious adversary, taking a toll on millions of mouths worldwide. Caries can lead to pain, tooth loss, infection, and in severe cases, even death.

Some state that current treatments do not sufficiently control biofilm, the main culprit behind dental caries, and prevent enamel demineralisation at the same time. This dual dilemma becomes particularly pronounced in high-risk populations where the onset of the disease can be both rapid and severe.

Now, a study from a team of researchers led by Hyun (Michel) Koo of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Dental Medicine in collaboration with David Cormode of Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine and School of Engineering and Applied Science has unveiled an unexpected synergy in the battle against dental caries.

Their research revealed that the combination of ferumoxytol (Fer) and stannous fluoride (SnF2) could provide at a potent tool in the fight against dental caries. Their findings were published in Nature Communications.

Their findings include the ability of Fer to stabilize SnF2, the heightened catalytic activity of Fer when combined with SnF2, and the formation of a protective Fe/Sn/F-rich film on tooth enamel, which can serve as a shield against further demineralisation. What’s more, this combined therapy doesn’t disrupt the ecological balance of the oral microbiota and has no adverse side effects on the surrounding host tissues.

The researchers also note that, beyond this protective and proactive measure, an intriguing secondary benefit surfaced. Many children with severe tooth decay also suffer from iron deficiency anaemia. Using Fer might address the dental and anaemia concerns simultaneously.

Looking ahead, further research is required into the exact mechanisms of interaction between SnF2 and Fer, the reactive oxygen species generation process, and the formation and efficacy of the protective enamel film.