New research could be signalling the end of dental implants and cavity fillings. Using a drug that has been tested for Alzheimer’s disease, scientists have found a way to regrow teeth.
The concept behind the treatment relies on processes that happen naturally in your body. Inside your tooth pulp there are living stem cells. When your tooth is damaged, the stem cells activate. They begin producing dentine to repair the tooth.
For this to occur naturally the damage needs to be minor. However, with the right encouragement, scientists are able to fix larger damage and even replace teeth altogether.
Using small molecule GSK3 inhibitors, scientists are able to stimulate the stem cells in teeth. This allows them to repair damage that is larger than they do on their own. Thus, allowing them to fill a cavity naturally in about six weeks.
This works because small molecule GSK3 inhibitors like Tideglusib promote natural tooth repair. A biodegradable collagen sponge is soaked in Tideglusib and placed in the cavity.
Tideglusib activates the stem cells encouraging them to form dentine. The dentine builds up, filling in the cavity. At the same time, the collagen sponge degrades, leaving just natural dentine in the repaired tooth.
Now a way to use the same process to regrow an entire tooth has been developed. At the Center for Craniofacial Regeneration, Dr. Jeremy Mao has developed a type of molar scaffolding for regrowing teeth. The whole process only takes about 9 weeks.
The scaffolding keeps the stem cells active and supports the growing tooth structure. This ensures the tooth is formed and shaped in a way that fits the mouth.
Nine weeks sounds like a long time compared to a dental implant, which a dentist can install all at once. But in some cases, dental implants can take a few months to fully heal.
Currently, the technology for regrowing teeth is still pursuing clinical trials. However, the future looks optimistic. The same drug, Tideglusib, is already in use with Alzheimer’s trials, which should make it easier to get clinical trial started. As well, the technique is already successful with regrowing mouse teeth.
When this product comes to market, the intention is for it to be a relatively cost-effective treatment. With real dentine growing in, the appearance will be natural and it will function just like a regular tooth.
However, for the time being the best way to replace a lost tooth is with a dental implant. A dental implant is made up of two parts:
Today, many people choose to use dental implants instead of dentures or partial dentures. They are more reliable for chewing, and create a more natural-looking smile.
The other alternative is for people to replace lost teeth with dental bridges. A dental bridge permanently attaches a realistic replacement tooth to the teeth on either side of the gap.
The ability to fix cavities and missing teeth with stem cells hasn’t yet made it into dental clinics. But with the best dentists in Toronto are always on the lookout for the latest approved techniques and technologies.
While we await new procedures like these, Dr. Judy Sturm’s Yorkville dental clinic continue to offer proven techniques like dental implants and bridges. If you have a missing tooth or teeth, contact us today to set up an appointment.
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