Science is finally moving dental treatment into the future, with this amazing new process.
Tired of having those holes in your teeth filled? Cavities are a pain, literally. Having them filled with a hard substance is useful, but not always a perfect solution. If the fillings fall out in time, and need to be fixed, it’s complicated. But you may one day have an alternative.
Back in ancient times, a dentist may have used a feeble piece of linen to fill your cavity. And things have changed since then, but actually not much. They still have to dig away at the decay and fill the hole with something that, hopefully, will keep that nasty bacteria out.
A new procedure is looking at doing something entirely different. Just as your hand heals when you cut it, scientists have figured out how to make your teeth regenerate themselves, essentially fixing the whole on their own.
It all has to do with mobilizing the stem cells living in your dental pulp. A recent report in Scientific American details how researchers have successfully harness their power and regenerated the teeth in mice and rats after developing a cavity.
How? It’s complicated. Something called a Wnt signaling pathway is what makes your body regenerate its tissue in places like your skin, intestines and brain.
Science has gone so far as to develop drugs that do a good job of simulating this pathway. Studies involving mice and rats have proved it works. When rags soaked in the drugs were placed in cavities formed in rodents’ mouths, the teeth developed “regenerative superpowers” and produced more dentin than normal- the stuff that the bacteria in your mouth breaks down off, causing decay.
As Paul Sharpe, a bioengineer at King’s College London and the lead author in the study is quoted as saying, “It was essentially a complete repair. You can barely see the joint where the old and new dentin meet. This could eventually be the first routine pharmaceutical treatment in dentistry.”
While using this solution is several years away yet, the future looks promising. Clinical trials need to be completed on humans, and the process refined. But your grandkids could definitely be looking at a life without fillings, and interesting super-human teeth.