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Papain Or The Dental Drill?

08.27.2013 · Posted in Dental, Health

Most of us feel a little anxious when faced with the sound of the dreaded dental drill and that’s before we’ve even set foot in the treatment room. The drill is synonymous with feelings of anxiety, nerves and nausea for many dental patients, but thanks to scientific research, there could be a solution: papain.

 

What is papain?

Papain is a compound, which is found in the fruit and leaves of the papaya tree; it has been developed into a gel product, which may spell the end of the dreaded drill for dental patients.

Researchers in Brazil have been testing and performing clinical trials on papain to determine whether it would be a safe and effective alterative to the dental drill. Papain gel was used on a group of 30 patients in Brazil to dissolve decayed tissue in cavities and the findings of the initial study were very positive.

 

How could papain be used?

Traditionally, if you have a cavity, your dentist will use a drill to drill into the tooth and break up the decayed tissue; the cavity is then cleaned and a filling is placed to strengthen the tooth. Papain has been used to dissolve the decayed tissue, which means that there is no need for the drill; the compound works in less than a minute and there is no risk of damage to the rest of the tooth.

Papain is already used in scientific laboratories all over the world to break down proteins and analyse samples. Now, researchers at Nove de Julho University are hoping to complete trials and put the product onto the market within the next three years.

 

What are the advantages of papain?

According to the initial findings, papain is extremely effective in treating tooth decay, one of the most common preventable health conditions in the world. Papain dissolves the decayed tissue in a very short period of time without interfering with the rest of the tooth or causing any pain or discomfort to the patient; early findings suggest that it is a pain-free alternative to the dental drill with the added advantages that it works quicker and bears no risk of damage to the surrounding tooth structure.

The major advantage that papain has over the dental drill is the fact that the procedure is quick and painless. Many people dread going to the dentist due to fears of pain, injections and the dental drill and with papain, the process of going to the dentist would be much less stressful and daunting. If papain is approved for use in dental practices in the UK, this would come as welcome news for the hundreds of people who suffer from dental phobia. It could well be utilised in private clinics such as Sensu in London before long. In some cases, fear of going to the dentist is so severe that patients put off going to the dentist for several years, which increases their risk of developing dental diseases; any treatment or remedy, which can help to make the dental experience less stressful and painful for patients, is therefore beneficial.

Research and clinical testing are ongoing and dental patients wait with baited breath to hear whether they could be reaping the rewards of the papaya plant in the future.