What if there was no more need for root canal treatment to be done in order save a “dead” tooth? Researchers at the University of Nottingham and the Wyss Institute at Harvard University have developed new regenerative dental fillings that use stem cells inside our teeth to repair tissue. This can potentially make conventional root canal treatment a choice, but not the only alternative when you have an “abscessed” tooth, or a tooth which has a dead nerve.
This new regenerative filling contains “pluri-potent” cells, which have the biological potential of becoming whatever cells are needed to regenerate the nerves, blood vessels and other tissue in the canals of the tooth. This source of cells can actually be recruited by this innovative filling material.
During a root canal procedure, the pulp of the tooth and the nerve are removed. If the new treatment becomes available, fillings made of synthetic biomaterials would be inserted, stimulating dental stem cells to repair and regenerate dentin, which is the hard, organic substance that accounts for the root and inner structure of the crown of the tooth.
Stem cells can serve many different functions in the body, including repairs, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. For example, stem cells are currently used to help treat spinal injuries, arthritis and diabetes.
Stem cells are already being used in dentistry to regenerate bone and gums through a process called Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP). In this application of stem cell regeneration, platelets from the patient’s drawn blood is concentrated through a centrifuging process. This process causes the plasma to be infused with high amounts of growth factors (stem cells). The enriched plasma is then reintroduced into the appropriate site to assist in the regeneration of bone and gum.
Thus, stem cell research is now in the throes of revolutionizing the field of endodontics, the specialty concerned with saving teeth through root canal treatment. In the new era, endodontists, and perhaps general practitioners, will administer the regenerative filling material using the proper clinical protocol to regenerate the nerves of the tooth in a similar manner that dentists are now regenerating bone and gum with stem cell technology.
It is not expected that this regenerative filling material will be less costly than doing a regular root canal. Therefore, on the basis of cost alone, the public is advised to observe proper dental hygiene, as well as dietary recommendation to avoid developing cavities that can lead to abscessed teeth.
It is, of course, important to see your dentist regularly for check ups and cleanings in order to avoid expensive, and possibly uncomfortable, root canals.
If you would like more information about root canal treatment options, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.
Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.