Is regenerating teeth an alternative to cavity filling?
Imagine if rather than getting a filling to fix tooth decay, you could get a whole new tooth! While it might sound like science fiction, dental researchers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science have actually created new teeth within a laboratory setting.
Researchers use lasers to stimulate stem cells to form dentin inside the mouth of real test subjects.
What does this mean for the future of dentistry?
This breakthrough in dental research means instead of placing a filling in your tooth, dentists may actually be able to grow you a whole new tooth.
Fixing cavities with fillings means that dentists often have to destroy part of your tooth. The decay needs to be removed by drilling a hole and the hole repaired with a filling. Overall, fillings do weaken the structural integrity of the tooth. To be able to grow an entirely new, healthy and strong tooth would be an amazing alternative.
How does regenerating teeth work?
Researchers have been trying to recreate tooth material using stem cells for years. However, until now, they have never succeeded in using stem cells outside of a laboratory setting.
This new research is different as researchers have generated dentin inside the mouths of patients. The researchers used lasers and growth factors to encourage stem cells in the mouth to grow into dentin.
Researchers drilled into teeth to access the stem cells found in the molars. These cells were exposed to low-level lasers, and dental crowns were then put over their teeth. After 12 weeks the researchers found that the dentin in the teeth was successfully regrowing.
What is dentin and why is it important?
Dentin is a hard material that makes up part of your tooth. Although it’s less well known than pulp and enamel, dentin is very important as it makes up the majority of the structure of the tooth. Dentin is the layer between the enamel and the pulp.
How long will it take for teeth regeneration to become viable?
Science is still in its early days which means traditional fillings will be the norm for the foreseeable future. However, scientists are excited by the possibility that tooth regeneration will one day become the norm.
It’s also likely that there will always be a place for treating cavities with fillings. Regenerating new teeth may be costly and currently, the procedure takes a long time. The research will also need to undergo a lot of scrutiny and health checks to make sure it is safe for humans. So far, research has only been carried out (albeit successfully) on rats.
Since there’s no telling when tooth regeneration will become an option for treating tooth decay, you should always look after your teeth as best you can. You can always prevent cavities from forming. When it comes to cavities, prevention is always better than a cure.
How can I avoid cavities?
Cavities are permanent damage caused to the surface enamel of your teeth. Tooth decay can be caused by sugar, mouth bacteria and plaque buildup on your teeth. To prevent cavities from forming there are several healthy habits you can adopt.
- Adopt a regular cleaning routine. Brush twice a day and floss between your teeth regularly. Brush your teeth for at least two minutes every time you brush.
- Brush with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride helps to build up the strength of your tooth enamel.
- Avoid sipping sugary drinks. Sugars can cause an increase in acid in the mouth which attacks the enamel of your teeth. Cut down on soft drinks, energy drinks and adding sugars to tea and coffee. Sipping sugary drinks throughout the day can create the perfect breeding ground for acid and bacteria.
- Avoid foods that get stuck in your teeth. Nuts and chips can be bad for your teeth as they get stuck easily behind and between teeth.
- Visit your dentist regularly. Plaque can build up in hard-to-reach places in the mouth. Seeing your dentist regularly will ensure that all parts of your teeth are taken care of.
Need a checkup for your teeth? Book an appointment at Gentle Dental today.