One day in the not too distant future at our West Linn family dentistry, teeth may actually repair themselves using their own stem cells – eliminating the need for fillings and other common dental procedures, finds the results of a recent study.
While still in the early stages of testing, a new method performed on mice suggests the drug called Tideglusib can actually stimulate teeth into fixing the damage caused by tooth decay.
“Teeth have a limited ability to repair themselves by activating their own stem cells,” reports Paul Sharpe, lead researcher on the project, in study published in Scientific Reports.
Teeth’s ability to naturally repair themselves is greatly improved through the use of Tideglusib, explains Sharpe, a professor of craniofacial biology at the Dental Institute at King’s College London in England.
Stimulating teeth into self-repair allows the tooth structure and vitality to be fully maintained.
“A new ear of regenerate dentistry is on its way, where new dental treatment use an understanding of the biology and physiology of the tooth,” explains Sharpe.
Teaching Teeth to Self-Repair
Stem cell approaches used by Sharpe’s team are at the forefront of techniques being developed to treat the living pulp inside a tooth to save the tooth itself. Stem cells have the unique ability to take on the duties of specialized cells in the body.
The soft, delicate pulp contains the nerves and blood vessels that keep a tooth healthy and alive. Damage to the pulp can easily kill the nerves inside and the tooth as a whole. Once the pulp of a tooth has been damaged, root canal treatments are often required to save the tooth. During a root canal, the pulp of a tooth is removed, the area cleaned, and is then filled with a hardened cement. This treatment saves the structure of a tooth but not the living tissue inside.
Thanks to advances made by researchers like Professor Sharpe, unwanted treatments like root canals and fillings may become a thing of the past. As further advances develop, a new wave of regenerative techniques will become available at your West Linn family dentistry and dental offices across the country.
Typically, when a tooth becomes damaged, the body produces a small layer of dentine to seal away the tooth pulp to prevent infection. However, the technique employed by the body isn’t effective when it comes to repairing large cavities.
In these cases, dental fillings are required to patch the decayed tooth, but the tooth’s normal mineral level is never entirely restored. This can lead to the continued decay of a tooth around a filling. Eventually, a dentist may have to remove the old fillings and replace it with a larger one that fits the growing hole. If this process of patching and decay continues, it may be necessary for the tooth to be permanently removed.
Discovering a Better Way
In this study, Sharpe and his colleagues placed biodegradable collagen sponges laced with a low dose of Tideglusib over holes drilled into the surface of mice teeth.
Tideglusib is a tiny molecule that has also been tested in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, but its effectiveness in fighting dementia has yet to be proven.
Over the next six weeks as the sponges slowly dissolved away, they were replaced by new dentine, leading to a complete, all-natural repair.
While the results of this latest study certainly offer a lot of promise, you won’t find this new technique available in your West Linn family dentistry anytime soon.
As the results of this study were preliminary, the American Dental Association says it’s too soon to know whether this technique can be applied to humans.
Sharpe’s team is currently duplicating the study on the larger teeth of rats, following which they hope to apply for approval and funding for clinical trials on humans.