For the millions of Americans who suffer cavities each year, the threat of a root canal may soon be a fear of the past. According to dentist Columbia Dr. Gregory Wych, researchers from Harvard University claim that they have discovered an innovative way to regrow parts of people’s teeth using an unlikely tool: lasers.
According to Business Insider, a Harvard-led team recently used low-powered lasers to successfully activate stem cells and stimulate the growth of teeth in rats and human dental tissue in a lab.
For a long time stem cells have been a source of captivation for scientists and your dentist Columbia because they have the ability to become different types of cells, which means that they have the potential to repair or replace damaged tissue.
Using lasers to create stem cells is very appealing option, as it is a minimally invasive technique - only requiring light once the damaged area has been exposed. This procedure could also potentially be used to heal wounds and regenerate bone, skin, and muscle.
However, your dentist Columbia warns that the research is in its earliest stages, so it's far too soon to determine if these futuristic techniques will ever make it to conventional medical treatments.
Following is the process they followed:
- They drilled holes in two rat molars, exposing the interior of the tooth.
- They exposed dentin, which is the harder-than-bone but softer-than-enamel tissue that teeth are mostly made of.
- They lit up the dentin using a low-powered laser to stimulate the stem cells to start producing more dentin to replace the damaged area.
- One molar received the laser treatment, the other did not.
Twelve weeks later, the dentin in the molar that received treatment was growing again, meaning the tooth was growing back. The laser light caused certain oxygen-containing molecules to appear each time, demonstrating how lasers can cause tissue to regenerate.
The effects were similar when researchers experimented with human dental stem cells. The lasers activated the stem cells, which can become many different types of cells, and specifically caused them to start forming dentin.
Although this is exciting news, your dentist Columbia advises that it’s not a green light to neglect your teeth, so schedule your next appointment now!