Root canals are used to save a tooth that has become infected or decayed, with over 15 million performed each year in the U.S.. However, this procedure can cause teeth to become to become brittle and susceptible to fracture over time. The procedure involves removing infected dental tissues and replacing them with synthetic biomaterials covered by a protective crown. Now researchers in Portland, Oregon, have developed a process by which they can engineer new blood vessels in teeth, creating better long-term outcomes.
By removing the tooth’s blood and nerve supply it is without an biological response. Then can cause the tooth to be lost and a need of dentures or implants. The researchers used a 3D printing-inspired process, which was based on their previous work fabricating artificial capillaries, to create blood vessels in the lab. They placed a fiber mold made of sugar molecules across the root canal of extracted human teeth and injected a gel-like material, similar to proteins found in the body, filled with dental pulp cells. They removed the fiber to make a long microchannel in the root canal and inserted endothelial cells isolated from the interior lining of blood vessels. After a period of seven days, dentin-producing cells proliferated near the tooth walls and artificial blood vessels formed inside the tooth.
The researchers believe that these findings may help change how root canals treatments are performed in the future. Thus teeth can be regenerated with the fabrication of artificial blood vessels. Potentially no longer will a tooth’s blood supply need to be cut off with a root canal. Of course one should still do everything they can to avoid root canals in the first place by properly brushing, flossing, and seeing a dentist regularly.
Avathamsa Athirasala, Fernanda Lins, Anthony Tahayeri, Monica Hinds, Anthony J. Smith, Christine Sedgley, Jack Ferracane, Luiz E. Bertassoni. A Novel Strategy to Engineer Pre-Vascularized Full-Length Dental Pulp-like Tissue Constructs. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1)