Dr. Joseph R. Anderson:Research Studies Suggest Root Canals Could Become Obsolete
Because no one is excited at the prospect of needing root canal therapy, I wanted to share some promising research under way that could change the way dentists try to save a tooth.
An estimated 15 million root canals are performed annually according to the American Dental Association.This procedure could one day be replaced by regrowing the inflamed, infected pulp tooth tissue using stem cells.Recent research in animals has demonstrated the ability of stem cells to regenerate the critical pulp tissue – and, if similar studies are successful in humans, it could makecurrent root canal treatment obsolete.
While researchers across the globe are working on this regenerative tooth tissue process, the studies are still in their earliest stages.Currently, the infected pulp is removed from the tooth.It is then replaced by injecting “hydrogel”,a gelatin type mix of stem cells along with signal prompting proteins harvested from the animals’ own teeth (in humans possibly the wisdom or baby teeth).The “magical” gel stimulates regrowth of the pulp in the center and other hard and soft tissues needed by the tooth.
An even more incredible potential is seen in three recently published research studies.One study in Cell Regeneration describes Chinese researchers growing whole tooth-like structures from mice with stem cells derived from mouse urine.A similar study published in Stem Cells by researchers at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine also claims stem cells derived from human urine could be used to regenerate humans’ organs and tissue, including teeth.A third published study in Journal of Dental Research from the University of Southern California School of Dentistry found that gum tissue from the human mouth could be a significant source of viable stem cells for multiple applications.
Don’t expect these dental services just yet.Though these findings could have a tremendous impact on tissue regeneration used in dentistry, the research is still in its earliest phases with human trials possibly beginning in the next few years.
Joseph R. Anderson, DDS - General and Cosmetic Dentistry Providing family dental care, cosmetic dentistry and preventive services to residents of Lake Conroe and surrounding areas – including Montgomery, Conroe, Cleveland, Willis, The Woodlands,and Houston,TX.