BACKGROUND: A new toothpaste ingredient has been developed by scientists at the University of Maryland's College of Dentristy. NovaMin is a material designed to relieve sensitive teeth, because blocks the holes that open in the teeth as the ceramic wears down, causing the sensitivity. And it can also help teeth absorb minerals to make them stronger and more resistant to cavities. Additional research indicates that NovaMin could help prevent cavities, too. A recent study also showed that adding NovaMin to fluoride toothpaste provided just as much benefit as increasing fluoride levels by 400% -- but without the toxicity concerns associated with too much fluoride. Novamin does this by growing new tooth mineral crystals near tiny decay cavities on the tooth surface.
HOW IT WORKS: It is a compound made from elements naturally critical for bone and tooth mineralization: calcium, phosphorus, silica and sodium. In their common forms, these elements have very limited value in tooth healthy. But in their rare ionic form, they can renew teeth. Each microscopic NovaMin particle serves as a delivery system for these ionized bioactive particles. When the particle is exposed to water -- whether it be saliva or tap water -- it instantly reacts, releasing billions of mineral ions that augment the natural remineralization process that already occurs in the mouth. These ions combine with naturally occurring ones in the saliva to form hydroxyapatite crystals. No other manmade material is known to directly lead to the formation of these crystals in the body.
ANATOMY OF A TOOTH: We think of teeth as being the part visible above the gum, but this is only the tip, or crown, of a tooth. There is also a neck that lies at the gum line, and a root, located below the gum. The crown of each tooth has an enamel coating to protect the underlying dentine. Enamel is even harder than bone, thanks to rows of tightly packed calcium and phosphorus crystals. The underlying dentine is slightly softer, and contains tiny tubules that connect with the central nerve of the tooth within the pulp. The pulp forms the central chamber of the tooth, and is made of soft tissue containing blood vessels that carry nutrients to the tooth. It also contains nerves so teeth can sense hot and cold, as well as lymph vessels to carry white blood cells to fight bacteria.
WHY TEETH HURT: Sensitive teeth are a major problem for many people. More than 80% will experience pain from hot or cold liquids and foods at some point in their life, and about a quarter will experience this sensitivity frequently. The hypersensitivity arises when the dentin of the tooth -- which is normally covered by enamel or gum tissue -- is exposed to the oral environment. Small "tubules" in the dentin can then transmit fluids that excite nerves in the pulp of the tooth, causing pain. Current toothpastes designed for sensitive teeth, like Sensodyne, use potassium nitrate compounds, which work by depolarizing nerves, which can mask more serious dental problems. The Novamin compound spread onto the tooth surface and block the dentin's tubules, dramatically reducing sensitivity.
The Materials Research Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report. ON THE WEB: http://www.novamin.com/powered_by_novamin.html