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Saving Teeth by Regenerating Dentin

Aug 02, 2016

By Dean George

No one likes tooth cavities because, pardon the pun, everyone knows the drill: the decay in the tooth is drilled out and the dentist inserts either amalgam or resin fillings.

Unfortunately, statistics show that over time 10 to 15 percent of those fillings fail. When that happens, the recommended treatment is two of the most dreaded words in vocabulary: root canal.

But what if a new type of synthetic biomaterial for fillings was found, and it allowed the affected tooth to regenerate itself? In other words, a type of filling that could stimulate the growth of stem cells in the pulp of the tooth and enable the affected tooth to heal itself?

Thanks to a project undertaken by Harvard and the United Kingdom’s University of Nottingham, that possibility may be closer to reality than you think.

Researchers from both schools have developed synthetic biomaterials for dental treatments that helps repair native stem cells in affected teeth and allows them to regenerate dentin.

As previously reported in Dental Wire, dentin is located between the tooth enamel and the nerve center of dental pulp and cementum which creates tooth sensitivity. Once bacteria penetrate that nerve center, the end result usually isn’t pleasant: pain, followed by fillings, root canals and dental crowns.

According to media reports written about the joint study, both fillings and root canals may soon be distant unpleasant memories if the regenerative procedures tested on both sides of the Atlantic become commercially available.

Adam Celiz, a therapeutic biomaterials researcher at the University of Nottingham, says one day all fillings could be made of regenerative material so that damaged teeth could heal themselves.

“Our approach has great promise to impact the dental field,” said David Mooney, a Harvard professor of bioengineering. “These materials may provide an effective and practical approach to allow a patient to regenerate components of their own teeth.”

Researchers have yet to release information about the biomaterial used in their study and their findings have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, but the technique did win second prize in the materials category of the UK Royal Society of Chemistry’s Emerging Technologies Competition 2016.

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Copyright 2016, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC

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