Scientists have developed regenerative fillings that allow teeth to heal themselves, which could mean the end of root canals.
The new approach, developed by researchers at the University of Nottingham and Wyss Institute at Harvard University, could spare millions of dental patients from the undergoing notoriously painful treatment.
The ground-breaking technique uses stem cells to encourage the growth of dentin – the calcified tissue that makes up the bulk of each tooth.
Dentin is found between the outer layer of tooth enamel and the inner pulp.
Boosting its growth enables the regeneration of teeth that have been damaged through dental disease.
“Existing dental fillings are toxic to cells and are therefore incompatible with pulp tissue inside the tooth,” explained Dr Adam Celiz, Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham.
“In cases of dental pulp disease and injury, a root canal is typically performed to remove the infected tissues.
“We have designed synthetic biomaterials that can be used similarly to dental fillings but can be placed in direct contact with pulp tissue to stimulate the native stem cell population for repair and regeneration of pulp tissue and the surrounding dentin.”
The revolutionary treatment has already earned the researchers a prize from the Royal Society of Chemistry.
The scientists now hope to win funding to develop the technique for widespread use.
The breakthrough is a significant breakthrough for the world of dental medicine and could result in fewer trips to the dentist for patients.
“We are excited about the promise of therapeutic biomaterials for bringing regenerative medicine to restorative dentistry,” said Dr Kyle Vining from the Wyss Institute at Harvard University.
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