How Nature Taught Us to Rebuild a Tooth

young woman with tooth painWhile human innovation is a typically an impressive feat, sometimes the answers to our most troubling questions can be found within the world around us. For instance, in the quest to fight the causes of tooth sensitivity, scientists have turned to an unlikely source to solve a problem, and it may involve something never before possible—the rebuilding of a tooth’s weakened or damaged structure. Polk City dentist, Dr. Ryan Hussong, discusses the dental revelation that was inspired by the ability of mussels to cling to surfaces like rocks and shells.

A Close Look at Tooth Anatomy

Tooth sensitivity commonly occurs when a tooth’s outer surface, called enamel, becomes too thin to completely insulate the tooth’s more sensitive structure from dental plaque and other irritations. Directly underneath the protective layer of enamel is dentin, the main structure of your tooth, which contains small tubules that feed sensory information to the nerves at your tooth’s center. As enamel wears away, dentin becomes more receptive to irritation. Therefore, rebuilding your tooth enamel and dentin can help cure sensitivity and restore your tooth’s strength.

Unlikely Inspiration

Unfortunately, teeth do not possess the cells necessary to repair or rebuild their enamel and dentin, so scientists have sought ways to stimulate the rebuilding process manually. To accomplish this, researchers have attempted bathing worn teeth in a bath of minerals, but unfortunately, only enamel benefited from the experiments. Inspired by the impressive ability of mussels to cling to marine surfaces, the researchers created a similar adhesive that allowed the minerals within the solution to remain in contact with dentin long enough to rebuild it. The successful results give hope for a simple, universal treatment for common tooth pain without the need for invasive procedures.


Dr. Ryan Hussong is a dedicated restorative, family, and cosmetic dentist who is passionate about helping patients create and maintain beautiful, healthy smiles. To schedule a consultation with us, call the Cornerstone Dental in Polk City office today at (515) 984-6001. We proudly serve patients of all ages from Polk City, Ankeny, Grimes, Ames, Johnston, Urbandale, and Des Moines.