27 January 2020

Nail polish for teeth

Scientists have created a protein varnish that protects teeth from caries

RIA News

Chinese scientists have announced the creation of a new protective coating on a natural basis – a peptide varnish that prevents the formation of caries and promotes the restoration of teeth. The results are published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces (Zhou et al., Constructing an Antibiofouling and Mineralizing Bioactive Tooth Surface to Protect against Decay and Promote Self-Healing).

According to the World Health Organization, dental caries is the most common non–communicable disease on the planet. The traditional treatment of dental caries consists in removing the damaged tooth tissues and filling the voids formed with special materials – dental amalgam or composite plastic.

Chinese scientists led by Quan Li Li from Anhui Medical University decided to use the mechanisms inherent in nature to prevent caries.

Tooth enamel does not recover by itself, but it is destroyed by mechanical or microbial damage. Against the second, evolution has created a good defense mechanism, in the form of antimicrobial peptides contained in human saliva. They cover the teeth with a film that prevents the penetration of pests.

However, a modern diet with a lot of sugar provokes too rapid growth of microbes, and the natural film turns out to be too weak before their pressure.

Scientists have set themselves the task of developing a new material based on the natural antimicrobial peptide H5 produced by the salivary glands, which will prevent the colonization of the tooth surface by plaque–forming bacteria, reduce the destruction of tooth enamel, and ideally, will restore it by starting the process of remineralization.

Peptide H5 is able to be absorbed by tooth enamel and kill a wide range of bacteria and fungi. To stimulate remineralization, scientists added a phosphoserine group to one end of its molecule, which, according to the researchers, is able to attract more calcium ions to restore enamel than natural H5.


An experiment on human molars has shown that the modified version of the peptide is better absorbed into the tooth surface, resists microbes longer and protects teeth from demineralization. With a sufficient layer of peptide coating and its regular renewal, microbes will die before they reach the enamel, and the enamel itself will have time to recover.

The authors called the new anti-caries coating a peptide varnish. It does not treat teeth and does not tighten carious cavities, but it successfully fights their creators – bacteria.

Scientists believe that in the near future, peptide varnish will become the same mandatory means of daily dental hygiene as toothpaste.

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