Navigating the path to optimal oral health seems to require that we keep one eye looking forward and the other looking in the rearview mirror.
On one hand, we must identify what actions we can take to avoid future decay, like decreasing sugar intake, eating sufficient fat soluble vitamins, and managing stress.
But there’s the ever-nagging question of what to do about the existing damage to our teeth from previous tooth decay and the dental drill.
Yes, OraWellness Shine helps to remineralize our teeth and decrease tooth sensitivity. However, while Shine can help to support any remaining natural tooth structure that it can touch, it won’t heal severely altered or damaged areas, like cracks, chipped teeth, or holes from decay and/or the dental drill.
And so, we must be on the lookout for any new technology solutions that can help us clean up past damage to our precious smile.
This article will share a possible solution we see coming on the horizon.
Stem cell research
The internet is ablaze with hope around the restorative capabilities of stem cell research.
It seems that currently, stem cell regenerative treatments are most commonly used for restoring our joints back to health.
However, there is quite a bit of research being done on how stem cell treatments could be applied in dentistry.
Researchers at King’s College of London are actively looking into how stem cell therapy could be used to fill in existing holes from tooth decay and the dental drill.
While this idea of regrowing teeth through stem cell therapy can really give our imaginations something to run away with, here’s how we currently understand the technology that’s coming.
What dentistry may look like in 5 to 10 years…
Let’s take a quick trip in our minds to examine the potential future of a dental procedure that’s currently still being developed…
In this dental office of the future, the dentist would use more sophisticated tools, like laser technology, to literally see into our teeth and identify areas of decay. Yes, they may still use x-ray technology, too. However, some of this technology exists today, and we’ve noticed that the industry is already beginning to shift to these less invasive methods of using light to identify decay.
Back to our ‘future dental procedure’ scenario: if decay that needs ‘filling’ is found, here’s the major shift…
The dentist will still prep the area and remove existing decayed tissue. But rather than filling the hole with a material that functions pretty much just as a plug or cork, dentistry will place a biodegradable sponge in the cavity.
This biodegradable sponge (made of collagen) would contain a material that stimulates the natural reparative capability of our teeth by mobilizing the resident stem cells in the tooth pulp chamber.
Since the sponge biodegrades over time, the tooth’s natural structure (built by the tooth’s own stem cells) would slowly replace the sponge in the gap.
Sounds promising, doesn’t it?
This article states that these sponges would deliver, “…low doses of small molecule glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) inhibitors…”, which stimulate the stem cells in nearby tissue to grow new dentin (tooth tissue) into the space.
We don’t think it’s far off, either.
And there’s quite a bit of science to support this procedure. If you like thick reads, here’s a link to the scientific article on it.
Can we have our cake and eat it too?
And the juvenile side of each of us runs with this new info… 🙂
Just because there may be emerging tech to help us regrow lost tooth structure doesn’t mean we can just run off and eat whatever.
Remember, if our teeth are decaying, our bodies are decaying. We still need to eat well, avoid foods that provoke tooth decay, use smart oral hygiene habits, and manage our stress levels.
This new tech is still just a patch. Yes, it seems like a step in the right direction that provides a much more functional patch than what current dentistry offers. But it’s still a patch.
When our teeth decay, it means that something is out of balance.
Dr. Ralph Steinman’s words still echo in our minds:
“As unpopular as it might seem, the control of caries (cavities) may rest upon a way of life which would include sound nutrition, freedom from undue stress, sunlight, exercise and water. Having cake plus between meal snacks and healthy teeth, too, has so far eluded science.”
It’s also worthwhile to consider that we don’t yet know how much it would cost to get this procedure done and whether or not dental insurance would help shoulder the financial burden. So, to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, in this case an ounce of (dietary) prevention may be worth a pound of (dental procedure) cure.
Special consideration of the precautionary principle
If you’ve been reading our research for a bit, you already know that we are kind of ‘old fashioned’ when it comes to healing modalities. What I mean by that is we like techniques and protocols that have stood the test of time, like Bass brushing or oil pulling.
As a habit, we tend to not just dive right into the most recent health gizmo.
After all, newfangled tech hasn’t stood the test of time, proving itself to be safe. So, we tend to steer a bit conservatively and wait to see how it works out.
But at the same time, we are pragmatic.
When a new technology emerges, we run it up against the holistic model that we have found most helpful to support whole being health. If the new technology that’s helping the local issue doesn’t obviously harm the whole being, we take a closer look.
In this case, we are curious and think the new tech seems very promising. But what are the long-term impacts (if any) of the molecule used to stimulate localized stem cells to produce more tooth structure? Time will tell.
Our hope is that really well-crafted studies are scheduled to help society clearly see the full impact and potential of this new technological advancement in dentistry. We also sincerely hope, provided it proves safe, that conventional dentistry quickly incorporates this strategy into their practice.
What about you? Would you be open to this procedure provided there are no known drawbacks?
What other questions should we be asking our dentists about this procedure once it becomes available?
Helpful, Related Resources:
Can fruit play a part in a cavity-free diet? [article]
What to eat to support greater oral health [article]
Is stress the primary cause of gum disease? [article]
OraWellness Shine [[product solution]]
Are dental x-rays safe? [article]
How to brush your teeth to reduce gum disease [[article and video tutorial]]
How oil pulling can improve oral health and whole body wellness [article]
“What exactly does ‘holistic oral health’ mean anyway?” [article]
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