It looks like root canals could be a procedure of the past as science and researchers are studying ways to regenerate a tooth’s pulp after trauma, bacteria, or infection have destroyed it.
Research has become sophisticated enough to grow tissue using stem cells. Scientists from Korea and Japan have grown the inner most tissue of the tooth called the pulp using regenerative medicine to avoid performing a root canal.
Although still in the early stages, eliminating root canals is exciting new technology for making a tooth whole and healthy. “The whole concept of going for pulp regeneration is that you will try and retain a vital tooth, a tooth that is alive,” says Tony Smith Professor in oral biology at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. “That means the tooth’s natural defense mechanisms will still be there. I think we are really just at the opening stages of what is going to be a very exciting time because we’re moving away from traditional root canal treatments.”
There are scientists focusing on regenerating only the pulp while others grow the whole tooth. More focus on growing a pulp by stimulation or controlling inflammation from infection. Generating a new tooth has the particular challenge of successfully growing tissues for attachment to the existing structures.
The University of Utah’s School of Dental Medicine, Baylor and Rice University are focused on research towards regrowing pulp. It has already been demonstrated using hydrogel, a small protein gelatin-like substance injected into the tooth for pulp cells, nerves and blood vessels to grow, and calm inflammation.
The future holds an exciting future for the oral health and the mouth. Could root canals really be a thing of the past in the near future when a dental emergency or a toothache occurs? Only time will tell.