Armoring Enamel: New Paradigms for Combating Dental Decay

Feb 21, 2014 | Contact Author | By: Steven Isaacman, PhD, and Michael Isaacman, PhD, Nanometics LLC; and Kent Kirshenbaum, PhD, and Peter Smith, New York University
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Title: Armoring Enamel: New Paradigms for Combating Dental Decay
enamelx remineralizationx calciumx phosphatex ionsx salivax acidsx proteinsx fluoridex nanocomplexesx peptidomimeticsx
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Keywords: enamel | remineralization | calcium | phosphate | ions | saliva | acids | proteins | fluoride | nanocomplexes | peptidomimetics

Abstract: To protect enamel, new mechanisms in classic oral care continue to be uncovered, while modern advances mimic and enhance natural protective systems. New approaches to enamel repair include augmenting natural remineralization by creating reservoirs of ions and applying saliva biomimetics. Such technologies, described here, represent significant advances for repairing and protecting teeth noninvasively.

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S Isaacman, M Isaacman, K Kirshenbaum and P Smith, Armoring Enamel: New Paradigms for Combating Dental Decay, Cosm & Toil 129(2) 38 (2014)

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The tough yet thin outer layer of the tooth is composed of dental enamel, which protects teeth from the daily assault of physical and chemical wear of chewing, grinding, food and drink. Dental caries, known as cavities, are the primary cause of enamel degradation, leading to tooth decay and yellowing. Although the body has mechanisms for natural enamel repair and protection, improving enamel health is a major objective of dentistry and public health concern. Furthermore, the maintenance of healthy enamel is critical for enhancing teeth strength and appearance.

Unlike bone, which is composed of living cells capable of regeneration, dental enamel is constructed largely of mineral hydroxyapatite, Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2.1 The oral environment endures a constant cycle of mineral loss and gain, and the calcium phosphate crystals in enamel can dissolve when exposed to acids from foods or oral bacteria—a process known as demineralization. Remineralization works to restore calcium and phosphate ions to enamel, and the structure of hydroxyapatite allows for ion substitutions in the crystal lattice during this process. Maintaining appropriate levels of calcium and phosphate ions in saliva is essential for oral health, and the interface of enamel and saliva is of key importance since it is where both demineralization and remineralization processes occur (see Figure 1).

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Figure 1. A constant cycle of enamel demineralization and remineralization with calcium and phosphate ions occurs in the oral environment.

Figure 1. A constant cycle of enamel demineralization and remineralization with calcium and phosphate ions occurs in the oral environment

Maintaining appropriate levels of calcium and phosphate ions in saliva is essential for oral health, and the interface of enamel and saliva is of key importance since it is where both demineralization and remineralization processes occur (see Figure 1).

Figure 2. Primary structure of salivary statherin N-terminal hexamer; casein phosphopeptides mimic this anionic fragment by stabilizing amorphous calcium phosphate with acidic residues.

Figure 2. Primary structure of salivary statherin N-terminal hexamer; casein phosphopeptides mimic this anionic fragment by stabilizing amorphous calcium phosphate with acidic residues.

Phosphopeptides derived from casein can mimic these salivary proteins and create nanocomplexes of stabilized ACP (see Figure 2).9

Biography: Steven Isaacman, PhD, Nanometics LLC

Steven Isaacman, PhD, earned a master’s degree in organic chemistry from Stony Brook University, and a Master of Science and doctorate in physical organic chemistry from New York University, where his research involved the design and fabrication of single molecule magnets, chiral molecular switches and self-assembling nano-architectures. In 2006, he founded Nanometics LLC and is the principal investigator on two small business innovation research awards from the National Institutes of Health. In addition, he is a visiting scholar at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and New York University. As founder and CEO at Nanometics, he leads the research team in designing novel small molecules, polymers and materials for the personal care and pharmaceutical markets.

Biography: Michael Isaacman, University of California, Santa Barbara

Michael Isaacman is a fifth-year doctorate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research focuses on the synthesis and self-assembling dynamics of silicone-based amphiphilic block copolymers. As an expert in silicone chemistry, he has pioneered novel methodologies for the design and fabrication of silicone polymers for use in drug delivery and personal care. A consultant for the personal care and pharmaceutical industry, he has published in the fields of natural product synthesis, pollutant metal detection and polymer chemistry.

Biography: Kent Kirshenbaum, PhD

Kent Kirshenbaum, PhD

Kent Kirshenbaum, PhD, studied chemistry at Reed College and obtained his doctorate in pharmaceutical chemistry from the University of California, San Francisco. Following post-doctoral studies at Caltech, Kirshenbaum joined the faculty at New York University, where he is an associate professor of chemistry. His research integrates oligomeric molecules in pursuit of new antibiotics and cancer therapeutics.

Biography: Peter Smith

Peter Smith

Peter Smith is currently a fourth-year undergraduate student at New York University, where his research is focused on the design and synthesis of bioactive peptidomimetics. He has developed new methods to utilize these functionalized oligomers as both antimicrobial agents and inhibitors of crystal growth. Smith is the recipient of multiple New York University undergraduate research grants, and his work has extended into personal care with research at Nanometics LLC.

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