Every year more and more research is conducted that expands the scope of dentistry, thankfully 2017 will be no different. As we become aware of how the human body works, in particular how the tissues of the human mouth work, we can begin to utilize our existing technologies to better serve our patients. 2017 is also a chance for dentists and scientists a like to use our minds and create new dental technology that will rid our patients of their dental ailments. At the beginning of this year we already have three promising dental technologies that, if successful in their trials and with further experimentation, could have an amazing impact on the ability of dentists like Dr. Brazdo to improve the lives of her patients through dentistry.
Regeneration of Dental Pulp
Dental pulp is one of the most important tissues of the tooth, it’s the bed of nerves and the blood supply and keeps the tooth alive. When it becomes infected, it must be removed. As anyone who’s ever had a root canal will tell you, it’s not the most exciting trip to the dentist you’ll ever take. Until now however, the only thing a person could do if their pulp became exposed to harmful bacteria was to undergo a root canal. Recently researchers at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, are finding that tooth stem cells can be delivered to a tooth with collagen-based biomaterial. These stem cells can spur the regeneration of dental pulp and save the tooth from the inside out. The idea to regrow dental pulp instead of removing it would enable dentists to entirely restore a tooth instead of placing a crown or dental implant. Their experiment was quite remarkable. The researchers placed their mixture of human dental stem cells and collagen-based biomaterial inside hollow teeth that had been extracted previously in an unrelated study. Within two weeks the formation of pulp-like tissue began to form in the hollow teeth, after four weeks blood vessels began to appear, at eight weeks the entire tooth was filled with pulp and a complex system of blood vessels and thriving red blood cells.They also observed that the pulp was tightly affixing itself to the dentin of the tooth. This experiment has a long way to go before it proves itself a reliable and predictable treatment. But, if it is successful, it may be an amazing addition to dental technology and the end of root canals as we know them.
Regeneration of Dentin
The science of filling cavities began hundreds of years ago with the advent of amalgam, over the past few decades the use of composite resin has overhauled the world of dental technology. Who would have thought that the next step in filling cavities would be enabling the tooth to regrow itself? There are many studies that are examining the regrowth potential of teeth after decay, but one is particularly promising. A medication approved for use in Alzheimer’s patients, Tideglusib, stimulates the regeneration of stem cells already in the pulp of teeth. Scientists at King’s College of London found that they could soak a collagen-based sponge with this medication and place it in the cavity. Within a few weeks the growth of dentin was triggered, and within six weeks the damage was entirely repaired. The exciting thing about this treatment is that because it is already approved for human use the potential to have this treatment in the hands of dentists could be in the near future.
The Use of Dental Lasers to Kill Bacteria
In a study published in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, researches detailed how different wavelengths of lasers can penetrate gum tissue to eradicate bacterial colonies. Using computer simulations and mathematical models based on optical characteristics of gum tissue and bacteria, researchers were able to show that the use of lasers could be a game-changing method of killing bacteria deep within a patient’s gums. These simulations proved that 810 nm diode lasers can kill bacteria that is 3 mm deep inside the gums, and that the 1064 nm Nd:YAG laser could do the same. This is great news because with these simulations, actual trials are now in the works. Currently around 25% of dental practices use dental lasers to remove decay from teeth and gum tissues. By tweaking the wavelength of the pulses, these lasers could be utilized in many dental treatment applications. The future usages of dental lasers in dental technology is exciting because unlike traditional scaling and planing to remove bacterial infections, lasers are minimally invasive and leave the surrounding tissues to heal bacteria free.
Although all of these therapies are in the beginning stages of research and development, it’s exciting to think of what the future holds for dentists. While we wait for the bacteria-killing lasers and cavity-repairing medications we can help to prevent and treat cavities the old-fashioned way with composite resin and adequate dental education. There is a lot to be excited about in the future of dental technology. We will keep our ears to the ground as these new technologies develop into usable treatments. In the meantime call today to schedule an appointment at your Melbourne, Florida dental practice. We can’t wait to ready your teeth for the future.