Toothache Relief Inspired By Nature

woman drinking water with a toothacheLike most aches and pains, a toothache isn’t a health condition in and of itself, but rather a symptom of an underlying condition. In the case of a toothache, that condition can be one of a number of things, from advanced tooth decay or gum disease to a sinus infection or sudden changes in altitude. The most common causes of toothaches, however, are dental disease and the exposure of sensitive tooth tissue. Your Columbia dentist, Dr. David Foster, explore how some researchers have taken inspiration from an unlikely source in nature to help improve treatments for sensitivity caused by diseased and excessively worn teeth.

Peeling Away Your Tooth’s Layers

The strong protective layer around your teeth, called enamel, is the strongest substance your body produces, designed to withstand the daily pressures of biting and chewing as well as repel harmful bacteria from your tooth’s more vulnerable inner structures. Directly underneath enamel is dentin, which is softer than enamel and comprises the majority of your tooth’s structure. At the very center of your tooth, in a chamber called the pulp, lie your tooth’s nerves and blood vessels. As excessive wear from use and acid produced by oral bacteria break down enamel and dentin, the pulp becomes vulnerable to bacteria, food debris, hot and cold temperatures, and other stimulants, leading to the often-debilitating tooth sensitivity that affects millions of people worldwide.

A Lesson from Mussels

Your teeth are made mostly of minerals, like calcium and phosphate, and to remain strong, enamel needs a steady supply of these nutrients. To help strengthen enamel against erosion, researchers have tried bathing worn teeth in a mixture of necessary minerals. Unfortunately, the minerals adhered to and reformed enamel, but did not remain in contact with dentin long enough to make a difference. To resolve this issue, the researchers looked to mussels, which have an uncanny ability to cling to rocks and other surfaces under water. After studying this ability, the scientists created an adhesive that works in much the same way and added it to the mineral bath. With the inclusion of the nature-inspired adhesive material, the mineral mixture was able to strengthen dentin and enamel simultaneously in the experimental worn teeth.


David Foster, DDS is a Columbia, TN native who’s served the dental needs of patients and their families in our community since 1985. If you live in Columbia, Lewisburg, Lawrenceburg, Hohenwald, Centerville, Pulaski, or any of the surrounding communities, then call us today at (931) 388 – 3384 to schedule an appointment.