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Dental Issues Author: Staff Editor Last Updated: May 28, 2014 - 7:31:11 PM



Regrowing Teeth with Lasers

By Staff Editor
May 28, 2014 - 3:08:58 PM



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(HealthNewsDigest.com) - Imagine if part of a broken tooth could be regrown with a simple laser procedure. The ability to regrow teeth could make fillings, crowns, and uncomfortable visits to the dentist a thing of the past, and now researchers have inched a step closer to this scenario by figuring out how to stimulate the growth of dentin, the hard, calcified tissue that makes up teeth. Recently, there's been a flurry of research focused on the manipulation of stem cells to spur tissue regeneration. Most of these studies have focused on techniques that alter patient-specific cells in culture and then reintroduce them into the patient or direct existing stem cell populations externally, for example by delivering growth factors or using an extracellular matrix. Here, Praveen Arany and colleagues wanted to see if they could manipulate stem cells by activating growth factors already in the body, rather than by adding outside factors or reintroducing manipulated cells.

Dentin tissue (harder than bone but softer than enamel), makes up the core of teeth. When a tooth is chipped or damaged, dentists use ceramic or other synthetic materials to protect it (like fillings, crowns and veneers). Arany and colleagues found that in rats, laser light - already shown to help regenerate cardiac, skin, lung, and nerve tissues - could regenerate a piece of lost tooth structure. The researchers created a defect in the tooth structure of the animals using a drill and removed a piece of dentin. They next shined a laser on the exposed tooth structure and the soft tissue underneath it. Twelve weeks later, the team observed that new dentin had formed. It turns out that laser light activates a native growth factor called TGF-beta, which stimulates stem cells to regenerate dentin. Since TGF-beta is present in many tissues (like the skin and bone), and is known to be important in controlling tissue inflammation, this technique could potentially be applied to other locations in the body, the researchers say. It may be what is helping to regrow cardiac, skin, lung and nerve tissue, for example. For now, Arany and team are focused on testing dentin regeneration in people.

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