It seems that dental specialists are starting to experiment with a new way to treat damaged teeth.
It’s an alternative to a procedure like a root canal for certain patients.
When 12-year-old Cody Nelson of San Antonio had a bicycle accident, it was his right front tooth that suffered most.
“The handle bars came up into my face and then it hit my tooth,” Nelson remembered.
“It is a big deal for a kid to have a tooth that is right in front of his mouth that is compromised,” said Dr. Anibal Diogenes, an endodontist with the U.T. Health Science Center Dental School.
Conventional treatment for Nelson’s injury would be a root canal, filling the dead space with a manmade material. However, “as the individual is an adult, that tooth is a fragile tooth,” Diogenes said. So experts at UTHSC are trying something completely different.
They are recruiting dental stem cells from the tip of the root and using the power of those cells to fill in the inside of the tooth, regrowing the pulp.
It’s a process that takes two short visits. Working under a microscope and using special tools, the endodontist restores the living tissue by helping the body do what it does naturally.
“We’re just facilitating the process,” Diogenes said.
“We’ll be able to tap into this source of stem cells and bring the stem cells up inside the root.”
“I was kind of glad that my tooth is finally going to be fixed since it was pretty much almost dead,” Nelson commented.
“So the tooth is acting and behaving like an intact, uninjured tooth,” Diogenes said.