The dentists’ office is probably one of the most feared places for children and adults alike. Rare are those who say that a trip to the dentist is not a nerve-wrecking experience and matters get worse whenever you need a cavity filling or a root canal. However, according to recent discoveries, root canals may very well become a thing of the past and soon you won’t fear going to the dentist anymore.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham and Harvard University have designed a new biomaterial which according to them helps the damaged pulp in the tooth to regenerate and create a protective layer of dentin. This is a major discovery in the field of long-term fillings and could help prevent infections which are the main cause for root canals.
We’ve all had a root canal done and we know how painful it can be. It has to be done when your tooth has a large cavity which damages it to the core, leading to an infection or inflammation. In such a case the dentist has to numb the tooth and drill into the affected area to clean it up and stop the infection from spreading. They clean the tooth from the inside and fill the canals with a permanent material known as gutta-percha before capping the crown of the tooth. And it hurts, A LOT!
How it Works
All of our teeth are composed of three layers: the outer enamel, the middle dentin that supports the enamel and the inner pulp where soft tissue and nerves are located. The important thing is to protect the inner pulp from damage and infections, and currently filling cavities has a 10% chance of failing. That’s one in every 10 patients!
The new formula for tooth fillings designed by Researchers at the University of Nottingham and Harvard University actually stimulates the tooth’s native stem cells for repair and regeneration of pulp tissue and dentin. With this new regenerative technique a root canal will no longer be necessary.
Dr. Adam Celiz from the University of Nottingham says that “Existing dental fillings are toxic to cells and are therefore incompatible with pulp tissue inside the tooth,” “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”.
Dr Kyle Vining from Harvard University adds “We are excited about the promise of therapeutic biomaterials for bringing regenerative medicine to restorative dentistry.” Their discovery brought them the second prize in the ‘materials’ category at the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Emerging Technologies Competition in 2016. This prize provided some additional funding to expand the technology further.
There has been a lot of progress in dental hygiene in the past decade and it maybe this latest discovery will make the whole experience a lot less nerve-wrecking and dreadful, for children and adults alike.