New Dental Fillings Repair Cavities, Eliminate Need for Root Canals

A recent scientific development, out of the University of Nottingham and Harvard University, may make root canals obsolete in the future. The new treatment involves the use of regenerative dental fillings that would allow teeth to heal themselves, according to a recent Newsweek article. The breakthrough work has the potential to change the future of dentistry.

Traditionally, when a cavity is discovered in a tooth, the decay is drilled out and a filling is placed. When these fail, a root canal is required to remove the pulp of the tooth, further damaging the tooth. The new tooth filling actually stimulates stem cells in order to encourage the growth of dentin, the bony material that makes up the majority of the tooth. This allows the patient to regrow teeth that are damaged.

“Existing dental fillings are toxic to cells and are therefore incompatible with pulp tissue inside the tooth,” claimed Adam Celiz, a Marie Curie research fellow at the University of Nottingham. “In cases of dental pulp disease and injury a root canal is typically performed to remove the infected tissues. 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.”

Scientists are looking to further develop the technique with industry partners in order to make it available for dental patients as an alternative to traditional fillings.

“We are excited about the promise of therapeutic biomaterials for bringing regenerative medicine to restorative dentistry,” said Kyle Vining, a fellow at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University.

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