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The Doctors discuss with dentist Dr. Sako Karakozian new research out of King’s College London which may be a potential breakthrough in dentistry. Scientists there may have found a way to coax stem cells to regrow tooth material potentially to fill cavities or regrow whole teeth.
A drug originally tested for Alzheimer’s, when combined with stems cells from the tooth pulp, resulted in successful regrowth of tooth tissue in mice. Does this mean the dreaded numbing injection and cringe-inducing drill are a thing of the past?
Not quite yet, but Dr. Karakozian says it could happen! These were clinical trials done on mice so FDA approval, as well as other clinical trials, need to be conducted before it’s safe for humans. While mice are traditionally one of the first animals used to study medications on, their teeth are similar, but there are still some differences that need to be examined.
Dr. Karakozian explains with the Alzheimer’s part of this medication, it’s inhibiting a certain enzyme and they found the same enzyme might be what’s inhibiting the growth of dentin. So, with this medicine inside the tooth, it’s going to release dentin stem cells to be able to regrow that part of the tooth.
ER physician Dr. Travis worries, what if your teeth just keep growing and grow outside of your mouth?! Dr. Karakozian says once a stem cell is released it kind of knows when to stop and shut off but it might not, which is why these studies are still needed to make sure it is safe for humans. Dr. Karakozain says right now, dentistry is focusing on prevention. The less they can go into teeth with a drill, the better for both parties.