Grow new teeth
The tiny gadget that helps you grow new teeth
By MARTYN HALLE, Daily Mail
Last updated at 09:12 04 July 2006
Teeth broken in an accident could soon be 'regrown' using an ultrasound machine half the size of a thumbnail. The process could take just 12 weeks.
Ultrasound is already used to help heal broken bones, now the technology is being applied to teeth.
Nanotechnology, which can reduce electronic circuitry to one thousandth of the size of a human hair, has enabled scientists to develop an ultrasound device small enough to fit inside the mouth.
Until recently the size of ultrasound machines would have made the use of the technique impractical for teeth. Now a wafer-thin ultrasound chip, which is pre-programmed so that it turns on automatically, can be clipped onto the teeth. When it is on, ultrasound waves massage the gums to stimulate and increase blood flow to produce new tooth tissue.
The treatment takes just 20 minutes a day. And, unlike with conventional machines, the patient can have the treatment wherever it suits them. They also feel no sensation as the device works.
The current version of the machine has a small hand-held device which tells the patient when it is working.
'It could be used in the evening after coming home from work or school or better still overnight,' says one of its inventors, Dr Tarek El-Bialy, of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.
'What's amazing is that you only have to have it working for a relatively short period of time each day to get a new tooth in three months,' he continues.
Dr El-Bialy discovered the use of ultrasound to form new dental tissue from his research on rabbit incisors, which was published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. He then moved on to humans and found similar results.
Theoretically, patients who have lost several teeth could have them re-grown at once using several ultrasound chips.
Dr El-Bialy argues that the technology - low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) - is better than 'artificial' teeth, which can become loose and break.
'Patients don't feel confident wearing them in their mouth,' he says. 'With this technology we should be able to get 90 per cent of broken teeth to grow again.
'At the moment, the technique works only where the tooth root remains in the jaw. But there are very few cases where patients have no root.
'Getting a tooth to grow again rather than using an artificial substitute, such as an implant which the body could react against, is much preferable.'
Another of the inventors, Dr Jie Chen, says there is even hope for patients who have lost a tooth in an accident and have no remaining root.
'We are working on taking tooth stem cells, growing them in a test-tube and then implanting them in the socket where a tooth has been lost,' he says.
'We have been able to grow new teeth in a laboratory in this way. We would use the ultrasound machine in the mouth to encourage the growing of a new tooth from implanted stem cells.'
The device could even be used in the mouth to help treat a condition where one jawbone is shorter than the other. These patients usually undergo many operations to improve their facial appearance.
'Using a larger machine, we have demonstrated this works on human patients and avoids the need for many operations to correct the jaw,' says Dr Chen. 'Now we hope to use the smaller device.'
The device should become available within the next two years.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-393940/The-tiny-gadget-helps-grow-new-teeth.html#ixzz3MKn5rYMU
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