Good news for those who didn’t brush their teeth! There is a new treatment that will grow teeth back. Hard to believe but it is called regenerative tooth fillings and it is in the trial stages as we speak. Since this new advancement isn’t just around the corner, we have plenty of time to see what this is all about.
Every year, hundreds of millions of cavities are drilled out and replaced with old fashioned fillings. Of those, 10 percent fail and lead to a root canal. That makes millions of root canals per year. This new procedure called regenerative tooth filling can not only avoid the root canal but make the actual drilling less invasive.
In the olden days (like today), cavities would be filled by amalgam, gold, composite, ceramic or other materials to fill the hole left by tooth decay. The problem is the interaction with the tooth pulp. The pulp can react negatively to what the dentists put in your mouth leading to a root canal. Once regenerative tooth filling arrives, those days will hopefully be long gone.
Teeth are made up of three different layers. Enamel is on the outside and gives us our whitey-white smile. Dentin is the bone-like middle layer that protects the pulp and gives the enamel its shape. In the middle is the pulp and that is where our solution lies. It is the pulp that allows regenerative tooth filling to occur.
The regenerative tooth filling is called a biomaterial that the pulp not only likes but is encouraged by to grow new dentine or the middle layer between the pulp and enamel. This material will protect the pulp while it grows new dentine to cover the cavity, which is a wound to the tooth. This new filling will then become integrated offering a more long term solution. No more fillings coming loose as years pass by. This material was developed by researchers at Yale University and the University of Nottingham.
Believe it or not, stem cells actually exist inside the tooth’s pulp. Regenerative tooth filling is placed in the cavity and then hardened by ultraviolet light. The biomaterial then works with the stem cells to create the new dentine protective layer. Instead of forcing this metallic or porcelain cover over the sensitive pulp, the pulp grows its own protection in a more natural way. Plus, this requires much less drilling. The old fillings needed to have all of the damaged or diseased tooth taken away before the protective filling was capped on the tooth. Now, the dentist wants to save the damaged, but still alive, tooth so it can regrow itself.
Since the regenerative tooth filling works with the pulp to create the new dentin, the tooth will obviously have to have live pulp still in the tooth. If the pulp, and therefore the tooth, has died, then it is too late to save the patient, er… tooth. Dead is dead.