Dental surgery

Teeth biting into an apple

“Filling without drilling”: A new class of product for the treatment of early stage dental decay based on hydrogels of self-assembling peptide tapes

Impact summary

A new class of synthetic self-assembling peptides has been developed at Leeds into a product that allows the enamel in the dental cavities to be regenerated. 

The peptides assemble to form gels that have been shown to be promising biocompatible materials with applications in regenerative medicine, for example in the regeneration of bone. 

Credentis AG (Switzerland) was founded in January 2010 to commercialise the technology in the dental care domain. 

Its first product, Curodont™ Repair (the first product of its kind in dental care), has completed first-in-man safety trials (also at Leeds).

It has received regulatory approval for clinical use in Switzerland, Europe and Australia, and was launched in Switzerland and Germany in 2013. 

The product has tremendous promise because most adults suffer from dental caries which often go untreated because of patients’ fear of the dental drill. 

A second product, Curodont™ Protect, approved in April 2013 and regulated as a cosmetic, was launched in 2013 for the treatment of dentin hypersensitivity.

Credentis has established a UK base and has engaged a UK company as distributor of its products.

No need for drilling

Dental decay is the most common of all diseases, but the basics of treatment have remained unchanged for almost 100 years. 

Most adults suffer from dental caries (tooth decay), many of which go untreated because of patients’ fear of the dental drill. 

The earliest sign of tooth decay is the “white spot” lesion, visible to the clinician on the tooth surface. 

There is no current consensus view regarding treatment, and clinicians have three choices: 

  1. to monitor the lesion, and then to excavate and fill;
  2. to apply fluoride treatments, and then to proceed as in (1);
  3. to place a small restoration. 

Ultimately, all restorations will fail and need to be replaced with larger fillings, and will eventually lead to tooth loss and replacement. 

Treatment currently costs the UK NHS about £2bn each year (roughly half of the budget for dental care). 

Drilling is feared by many patients, stopping them from going to the dentist, and so prevents opportunities for early diagnosis and treatment of decay as well as diseases such as oral cancer. 

Leeds’ self-assembling peptide technology provides a simple and cost-effective alternative to current treatments that avoids a subsequent need for larger fillings.

This technology removes the clinician’s dilemma of whether to treat decay, and removes the need for drilling and thus the fear of visiting the dentist. 

The new technology has received significant attention in the media.

The research was done by our Crystallisation and Direct Assembly research group, and the Leeds Dental Institute.