Image credit : WIKICOMMONS
Researchers from the University of Nottingham and the Wyss Institute at Harvard University have developed a the new type of tooth filling that allows teeth to repair and regenerate themselves.
The achievement could significantly impact millions of patients each year with dental fillings that help heal teeth when they are injured from dental disease or dental surgery.
“Until now it hasn’t been possible to isolate these naive stem cells, even though we’ve had the technology to do it in mice for 30 years – leading some people to doubt it would be possible,” said researcher Ge Guo from the Stem Cell Institute at the University of Cambridge.
Dr Adam Celiz, Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham, said: ‘Existing dental fillings are toxic to cells and are therefore incompatible with pulp tissue inside the tooth.
‘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.
David Mooney, the Pinkas Family Professor of Bioengineering at the John Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, added: “These materials may provide an effective and practical approach to allow a patient to regenerate components of their own teeth.”
The researchers are now hoping to develop the technique with industry partners in order to make it available for dental patients as an alternative to traditional fillings.