Could Prefabricated Blood Vessels Change Root Canals Forever?

June 19, 2017
Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN

Root canals are one of the most dreaded procedures for patients. At Oregon Health & Science University, principal investigator Luis Bertassoni, D.D.S., and his team have discovered a new method that uses synthetic means to repair infected dental tissue. Inspired by the latest technology, this development has the potential to revolutionize dental care. Read more about the report and the benefits of the improved root canal procedure.

The root canal, known as a painful, costly procedure with multiple risks, just recieved an upgrade thanks to researchers from Oregon Health & Science University

Each year, over 15 million root canals are performed by dentists around the country. In a new report published in Scientific Reports, researchers from Oregon Health & Science University detail a new way to complete this common treatment using prefabricated blood vessels created from endothelial cells. These cells make up the interior lining of blood vessels throughout the body. The hope is that this new procedure in which synthetic biomaterials are used to replace infected dental tissues could replace the current method of performing root canals.

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Principal investigator Luis Bertassoni, D.D.S., and colleagues were inspired by modern 3D printing techniques to try to create new blood vessels in a laboratory setting. A fiber mold made of sugar molecules was first placed across the root canal of already extracted human teeth. Then, the team injected a gel-like material containing dental pulp cells into the space. The sugar fiber was removed to create a long channel within the root canal. Finally, endothelial cells were inserted into the channel.

After a period of seven days, the research team noted artificial blood vessels forming within the tooth, along with dentin-producing cell proliferation.

“(Root canals eliminate) the tooth's blood and nerve supply, rendering it lifeless and void of any biological response or defense mechanism,” Bertassoni says. “Without this functionality, adult teeth may be lost much sooner, which can result in much greater concerns, such as the need for dentures or dental implants.”

Bertassoni added that the result verifies that the construction of artificial blood vessels can be a highly effective strategy for fully regenerating the function of teeth.

“We believe that this finding may change the way that root canal treatments are done in the future,” he says.

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