Open wide, this won’t hurt a bit. That might actu­ally be true if the dentist’s drill is replaced by a promising low-​​powered laser that can prompt stem cells to make dam­aged hard tissue in teeth grow back. Such min­i­mally inva­sive treat­ment could one day offer an easy way to repair or regrow our pearly whites.

When a tooth is chipped or dam­aged, den­tists replace it with ceramic or some other inert mate­rial, but these dete­ri­o­rate over time.

To find some­thing better, researchers have begun to look to regen­er­a­tive med­i­cine and in par­tic­ular to stem cells to pro­mote tissue repair. Most poten­tial stem cell ther­a­pies require the addi­tion of growth fac­tors or chem­i­cals to coax dor­mant stem cells to dif­fer­en­tiate into the required cell type. These chem­i­cals would be applied either directly to the recipient’s body, or to stem cells that have been removed from the body and cul­tured in a dish for implantation.

But such treat­ments have yet to make it into the doctor’s clinic because the approach needs to be pre­cisely con­trolled so that the stem cells don’t dif­fer­en­tiate uncontrollably.

 

Read the article at New Scientist →