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Regenerating Tooth Dentin with Laser Technology

Jun 05, 2014

By Dean George

Doctors and dentists routinely use lasers in different ways, but now scientists are focusing like a – well, a laser - on a potential new application: repairing teeth.

Lab researchers have used a low-power laser to activate a cell protein to form dentin, the hard tissue core of a tooth that rests between the enamel and the pulp of a tooth.  While regenerating an entire tooth with enamel was complicated, they were able to regenerate dentin from human cells using mice and rats.

Researchers reported that dentin formed over a 3-month period after they drilled holes in the molars of the rodents, used a laser on the tooth pulp and put on temporary caps. The new technique stimulates action in stem cells already in place by using lasers to activate chemically-vibrant molecules. Those molecules in turn activate a stem cell protein involved in development, healing and immune functions.

“Our treatment modality does not introduce anything new to the body, and lasers are routinely used in medicine and dentistry,” said Harvard University bio-engineering professor David Mooney. “It would be a substantial advance in the field if we can regenerate teeth rather than replace them.”

Researchers said that getting regenerating dentin could eliminate the need for one of dentistry’s most unpopular procedures, the dreaded root canal.   

“I think it has potential for great impact in clinical dentistry,” said Praveen Arany of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. He added that it is important to administer the exact dose when using the laser because “too low (of a dose) doesn’t work and too high causes damage.”

As reported in Agent Straight-Talk, dentists have been using laser technology since the mid 1990’s, for treatments ranging from teeth whitening to gum disease. Laser therapy practitioners have known that lasers stimulate biological processes like hair growth and skin rejuvenation, but were less certain about the mechanisms involved.

If researchers can get approval for human clinical trials in the near future while successfully duplicating the results described above, they say it could open the door for a range of laser-based medical advancements such as regenerating cardiac tissue and fixing bone damage.

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