A super tooth!

We no longer have the teeth of old! Instead of gold inlays and dental fillings made up of various metals, engineers are currently working on an artificial drug-releasing tooth.

We no longer have the teeth of old! Instead of gold inlays and dental fillings made up of various metals, engineers are currently working on an artificial drug-releasing tooth.

Scientists are in fact perfecting a device to be inserted in an artificial tooth the size of a molar, at the back of the mouth. This device will release a preset dose of medication for a specific period of time.

Treatment non-adherence is on an upward trend and the medical community is very worried. Most prevalent in people who take medications for serious chronic illnesses like osteoporosis, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia or hypertension, non-adherence could soon be a thing of the past. Too many patients abort treatment prematurely, forget to take their pills, modify the dose to lessen the side effects, etcetera, all without seeking any medical advice. Perhaps they do not realize the impact of their actions: they are putting their lives in jeopardy. An automatic drug-dispensing device would certainly counter this problem.

But why release medication through a tooth? By placing the drug-dispensing device inside the mouth, the medication could be delivered directly into the bloodstream by being absorbed through the porous lining of the cheeks and other parts of the mouth.

The stainless steel device consists of a pump, a valve to regulate drug flow, a microprocessor, batteries, and a reservoir for the medication. Although the super tooth is currently the size of two teeth, engineers anticipate reducing it to that of a single molar. The unit can be removed from the mouth regularly, cleaned and filled by a technician who will also replace the battery when needed. Clinical trials on pigs have been successful to date and researchers are expecting human trials to begin before the end of the year. While the super tooth only has a limited lifespan, researchers are hoping to transform this device into a permanent fixture very soon.

Many years of research are obviously needed before this gizmo is perfected enough to be implanted in human mouths. But who knows, you may soon visit the dentist to get your cholesterol medication!

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