When you go to the dentist with a tooth ache, one of the last things you want your dentist to say is that you need a root canal. If you have experienced one, you know that this very invasive procedure is usually followed by the need for a crown. Once these processes are completed, they only leave behind the shell of your tooth. These two services may not go together much longer. Although, you may need a root canal to help preserve your natural tooth, endodontists who use regenerative endodontic therapy may be able to make your tooth come alive again, eliminating the need for a crown. The results are promising.
What Happens During A Root Canal?
A root canal is performed on a tooth which has become badly decayed or infected. During the root canal process, the living pulp tissue as well as the nerves of the tooth are removed. The inside of the tooth is cleaned all the way down to the tips of the roots, filled with an inert material and then sealed. This means the tooth will no longer have a blood supply and will no longer continue to grow.
The lack of a blood supply can pose a problem if it is a young tooth, or even an older tooth with a relatively shallow root system. Because the tooth no longer grows, the dentin will no longer thicken, which will eventually cause this part of the tooth to thin, become brittle, and eventually crack. This is why most teeth which has had a root canal requires a crown to reinforce or protect the dentin of the tooth.
How Does Regenerative Endodontic Therapy Differ?
When an endodontist uses regenerative endodontic therapy, they will still have to open and clean out the infected tooth. The difference is instead of filling the tooth with inert materials, they will replace the tissue in the tooth with other live tissues. This is done by either stimulating the existing cells of the tooth to regrow, or by using a bioactive substance which has been generated outside of the body. If successful, the material within the tooth will regenerate the necessary cells, and will continue to live and grow just like any other tooth.
Where Do Bioactive Substances Come From?
When the dentist uses a bioactive substance to be placed within your tooth, it may have come from one or more sources. Some of these sources are as follows:
Stem Cell Therapy - Many people do not realize that teeth are a rich source of stem cells. The fact that teeth are naturally shed, or even extracted, has allowed dentists to be able to harvest these stem cells, perform research, as well as develop many potential uses for these cells. Once they are placed back into the tooth, they will continue to grow and regenerate missing tissue.
Growth Factors - These are naturally occurring substances found within the human body, which have proven to be capable of producing cellular growth and healing.
Morphogens - This is a molecule that can be used to help to determine the fate of, or change, the cell type of cells. It can also cause growth, proliferation, and a differentiation between cells. For example, within the dental field, morphogens can be used to help to change other tissues and cells into those needed for the repair, and regeneration of the tooth material.
Tissue Scaffolds - In tissue engineering, these are materials on which other cells are able to develop and grow. Tissues and cells grown this way are more likely to be accepted by the body and not rejected.
Not every endodontist is currently using regenerative endodontic therapy, but more dentists are coming on board everyday. Ask your dentist if this a viable option the next time you have to have a root canal. For more information on a dental clinic that uses endodontic therapy, check out http://www.jpdentalgroup.com.