The medical implications of stem cells have already transformed many different areas of health, from orthopedic surgery to cosmetic enhancement, and now they are making their way into the realm of oral health. If stem cells can be applied as experts are predicting, cavity treatment will never be the same.
About the Mouth and Cavities
The mouth is always teeming with bacteria, but some is actually helpful bacteria. However, the damaging bacteria teams up with the sugars and starches found in food to produce acid. That acid eats away at the outer surface of the teeth known as enamel. Over time, too much acidity causes the enamel to lose minerals and become weak and decayed. This decay is what we know as a cavity.
Normally, a cavity is treated using something called a filling. This process involves removing the decayed tooth material, cleaning the affected area, and filling the cleaned out cavity with a filling material that prevents bacteria from entering in the future. Until now, the only filling options available have been gold, porcelain, composite resin, and amalgam.
The New Stem Cell Fillings
Two scientists from the University of Nottingham and Harvard University recently developed a treatment being touted as “a new paradigm for dental treatments.” The treatment harnesses the concepts of regenerative medicine to fill teeth with synthetic biomaterials that make direct contact with the pulp tissue to stimulate the native stem cells in the affected tooth. The stem cells then naturally repair and regenerate pulp tissue and the surrounding dentin so a cavity is not only stopped in its tracks, but also reversed to completely heal the decayed tooth.
The two scientists who developed this revolutionary biomaterial are looking for industry partners in an effort to make it available to all dentists in the country and even around the world. Used as an alternative to traditional fillings, this invention could very well completely change the face of restorative dentistry to give oral health a second chance.