Biologists at Zurich University have come a step closer to being able to rebuild healthy tooth enamel, they announced on Friday.
A team from the university's Institute for Oral Biology conducted tests on mice to identify a gene believed to be responsible for producing the substance that gives teeth their durability.
It is the hardest known natural tissue but once broken or eaten away by acids, it does not regenerate.
The gene's discovery could one day help scientists develop replacement enamel or products that aid in its recovery but no clinical steps have been taken so far.
The team, which included biologist Thimios Mitsiadis, published the findings in the journal Developmental Biology.