Scientists could someday re-grow damaged teeth

Sometimes it’s necessary to visit your Plantation family dentist to have a cavity filled. But someday, maybe your dentist will be able to regrow your tooth to fill the hole caused by damage or decay.

King’s College London bioengineer Paul Sharpe and his team have discovered a new method that encourages teeth to grow back in mice, Scientific American reported, and the treatment is getting closer to human trials.

Sharpe was able to increase teeth’s natural healing ability by mobilizing stem cells in the dental pulp by activating a signaling pathway that encouraged the activity of stem cells in the dental pulp.

To test this idea, the scientists drilled holes in the teeth of mice then placed drug-soaked sponges in the holes for six weeks. The teeth treated with the drugs produced significantly more dentin than the untreated ones.

The result was essentially a complete repair, Sharpe said. “You can barely see the joint where the old and new dentin meet. This could eventually be the first routine pharmaceutical treatment in dentistry,” he said.

Sharpe and his colleagues also tested their regenerative technique on rats, which have larger teeth than mice, so are closer to the size of human teeth.  The treatment worked just as well on the rats as it had on the mice, Sharpe said.

They are also developing an alternative delivery system in which the treatment drug will be dissolved in a gel that is injected into a cavity and bathed with ultraviolet light to solidify it.

Researchers said clinical trials with human patients are at least several years away.

Until tooth regeneration is a reality, see your Plantation family dentist for treatment options that include fillings and crowns. And make sure you get your regular cleanings so that cavities are prevented and you don’t have to worry about re-growing tooth tissue!

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