Stem Cell Procedure May Replace Root Canals In The Near Future
Anyone who’s suffered the terrible pain that comes with a root canal will be happy to know that the dreaded dental surgery may no longer be need in the near future. Thanks to scientists from the University of Nottingham and Harvard University’s Wyss Institute, a new treatment that uses stem cells to heal damaged teeth is in the works.
“What we found is a material that can potentially regenerate components of a patients’ tooth,” explained University of Nottingham’s Marie Curie Research Fellow, Dr. Adam Celiz.
The technique, which recently earned a prize from the Royal Society of Chemistry, drills an implant into the decaying tooth, just like a traditional filling. Instead of just filling the hole, though, the material then stimulates stem cells to grow dentin, the material teeth are primarily made of.
“Existing dental fillings are toxic to cells and are therefore incompatible with pulp tissue inside the tooth,” says Celiz. “In cases of dental pulp disease and injury a root canal is typically performed to remove the infected tissues.”
This complete removal of the infected dental pulp is what causes patients so much pain.
Misako Nakashima, DDS, Ph.D., of the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology in Obu, Japan, notes that current treatments for infected and inflamed pulp can have limited success, and depending on the severity of the problem, can even progress the issue until the tooth must be completely removed.
Not only will the stem cell procedure relieve patients of pain and trouble – and potentially losing teeth – but it will restore and strengthen the infected tooth. Celiz says the goal is for this innovative procedure to bring regenerative medicine into the field of dentistry.
The procedure is still in early stages of development, and researchers aren’t sure exactly when it will be ready to be used on humans. Celiz and his team have only tested the procedure in cell cultures and will soon move on to rodents.
The future of stem cell use in dentistry looks promising though, and is rightfully titled as a “new paradigm for dental treatments.”