Hating dental visits ranks up there with visiting a proctologist. Not comfortable or fun, only necessary. Over the last decade or so, chances are you haven’t noticed incremental changes in the procedures we now use (or some of us now use) to make you more comfortable and get you in and out faster. The future looks even more amazing with oral care advances we haven’t seen since the advent of the electric drill and local anaesthetic.
Here are just a few of the incredible technologies that have been developing and will again change the way you see your dentist in the very near future:
Hate fillings? They could be a thing of the past. Tideglusib, a drug originally developed for and trialled to treat Alzheimer’s disease, has shown potential to replace fillings for cavity repair. The drug stimulates cells located in the pulp of teeth and promotes the production of dentine, the mineralized substance beneath tooth enamel that is affected by decay.
While trials have only been done with mouse teeth so far, the drug has already passed clinical trials for Alzheimer's treatment so the timeline for it to potentially move into dental clinics is quite short. Researchers found that inserting small biodegradable collagen sponges soaked in Tideglusib into cavities triggered dentine growth and damage was repaired within six weeks.
Diamond-strong teeth for faster recovery and longer wear. Researchers at the UCLA School of Dentistry and the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science discovered that nanodiamonds provide effective protection of disinfected root canals after removal of nerves and pulp.
The nanodiamonds are mixed with gutta percha, a material used to fill disinfected root canals, creating a mixture that is more resistant to buckling and breaking than conventional gutta percha. It significantly improves the chances for a full recovery after procedures and also represents a milestone in research for the use of nanodiamonds in humans. Cool stuff.
Researchers are excited about the potential that nanodiamonds have in dentistry, as well as cancer treatment, regenerative medicine and antimicrobial applications.
The tooth fairy’s collection just became more valuable. A collaboration of dentists and engineers from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) have discovered a new way of harvesting stem cells that put your wisdom teeth at centre stage.
Recognizing the potential offered by the significant number of adults getting their wisdom teeth removed the research team focused on solving the challenge of extracting viable pulp from teeth - cracking them open without rendering them useless. Their new process allows the recovery of approximately 80 percent of viable stem cells from fractured teeth!
Tooth pulp offers a treasure of stem cells–containing both pluripotent stem cells, which can grow into any cell type and multipotent stem cells that turn only into specific cell types–and allows an ethics-friendly alternative to create embryonic stem cells.
Potential uses of dental pulp stem cells include conversion into neurons for therapies for cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, and treatments for cancer, arthritis, lung disease, and more.
I often write about how your oral health has an essential role in your overall health. These advances are excellent proof of how far dentistry has come in the last decade and how we are going beyond basic repair to the actual regeneration of teeth and tissues.