The natural history of the dental pellicle and its relationship to dental erosion

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Eastman Dental Institute


Dental erosion (DE) is usually caused by dietary acids and can affect quality of life. Our data show that 45% of elite athletes are affected particularly due to acidic sports drinks and environmental challenges although general population prevalence is high. Simply raising sports drinks pH makes them unpalatable.

Research questions:
1. What is the role of the dental pellicle in dental erosion?
2. Can dental pellicle and dental erosion be modelled in the laboratory?
3. How can changes to dental enamel surface be characterised in vitro?
4. How can in vitro methods of quantifying dental enamel changes be used clinically, in vivo to assess dental erosion?
5. Can the dental pellicle composition/structure be modified to reduce risk of dental erosion?

1. In vitro modelling of dental erosion will develop new methods to simulate oral conditions both with and without the contribution of a glycoprotein layer of the dental pellicle. The validity of the model and detection system has been investigated with optical scanning methods as well as microtomography and surface scanning methods.
2. Once a successful model of DE has been validated, sport supplements, drinks and gels will be tested in the model against a standard control for their erosive characteristics with and without dental pellicle.
3. The erosion detection methods will be based on technology that could potentially be used in the mouth to assess erosion clinically (in vivo) and might therefore be introduced into clinical practice in the future.
4. We will also collect saliva from athletes before and after intensive training to investigate whether changes occur to pellicle formation that might promote erosion.
5. Based on the above studies, we will create interventions for modifying the structure and composition of the dental pellicle with the potential to reduce erosion of the enamel. These will be screened for activity in vitro and then tested clinically using the enamel erosion detection approach developed in the in vitro studies
6. The expected outcome is a new approach to modifying the structure of the enamel pellicle to reduce erosive risk that can be used in elite sport and the general population.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R512138/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2022
1986272 Studentship EP/R512138/1 15/01/2018 30/09/2022 Hesham Matabdin
Description The first step of the project was to develop and in vitro erosion and dental pellicle model where early dental erosion lesions were quantified using optical coherence tomography. There were no significant differences in erosive lesions with and without dental pellicle on bovine teeth. Secondly, optical coherence tomography is a non invasive diagnostic technique to measure advanced lesions with surface loss. Need to consider alternative methods to detect and measure early erosive lesions.
Exploitation Route Develop a delivery method of introducing modified pellicle to the athlete population to prevent dental erosion
Sectors Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology