There are few things more terrifying than climbing into the dentist’s chair before a root canal treatment. But thanks to a new breakthrough in laser technology, that particular terror could become a much less common occurrence.
Researchers at Harvard University have successfully used lasers to partially regenerate teeth. In tests on mice and rats, they drilled out part of a tooth (I’m choosing to believe the animals were all
given laughing gas), and then treated it with a laser. Just 12 weeks later, the teeth had grown a new layer of dentin, the layer below the outer enamel.
The scientists believe that the laser’s light reacted with the dental tissue to activate growth chemicals, which stimulated stem cells to grow.
While we’re some years off dentists using this technique on patients, Dr Praveen Arany, who led the research, told the BBC that it could prevent the need for root canal treatment and tooth removal in future.
The results, which were published in the journal Science Translational
Medicine, haven’t yet been replicated on humans, but the procedure should be easier to
perform on people given that our teeth are larger, and many of us think lasers are cool.
Image via Conor Lawless’ Flickr.