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A team of researchers at Harvard has discovered that it may be possible to regrow dentin in teeth-through the power of lasers.
In a solution that sounds plucked straight from the realms of sci-fi, the group published their findings on Science Transitional Medicine. While the authors point out that stem cells have been used to regenerate dentin in a lab setting, the new technique of blasting a tooth with a non-ionizing, low-power laser has been shown to produce dentin growth in rat teeth. The dosage is important, since the same type of laser can actually destroy dentin.
The laser apparently stimulates “an endogenous latent growth factor complex” that produces dentin regeneration. Researchers seem to suggest that it may be latent stem cells in the dentin tissue that are activated to mimic the dentin surrounding them, producing a regenerative effect.
Naturally, this kind of discovery has huge potential for the dental world. Perhaps one day, instead of needing fillers or other types of inorganic material, it will be possible to regrow patients’ teeth in office with a chairside laser. Obviously, an entire restoration will not be possible with just the regrowth of dentin (since the enamel will still be in disrepair), but these findings could be an exciting development in the effort to make chairside solutions more painless and immediate. By growing a patients’ own latent cells, bonding would no longer be an issue and failure of the filler in merging with the surrounding dentin would be a thing of the past.
The new technique is reportedly moving on to human trials, so the dental world should hear more about this exciting new technology in the coming years. In the meantime, keep an ear out for this exciting new technology that could make direct restorations more organic and patient-friendly than ever.
Top photo: Getty Images/Datacraft Co. Ltd.