1. Tooth Anatomy Basics
The inner most part of a tooth is called the pulp, which contains blood vessel and nerve tissue. Together, they make up the root canal. The dentin surrounds the pulp. Finally the enamel covers the dentin.
2. Root Canal
When someone comes to an Endodontist for a root canal, often the pulp is infected so the root canal needs to be emptied and replaced with an inert material.
3. Stem Cell Solution
New research in stem cells promises to solve the need to fill the root canal with an inert filling substance by stimulating the re-growth of the root canal and the damaged dentin.
4. The Stem Cell Challenge
When scientists inserted stem cells into a tooth, with the pulp removed, the stem cells don’t differentiate into the two damaged tooth tissues - dentin and pulp. Researchers need a way to help the stem cells know how to differentiate and heal both the pulp and dentin.
5. Stem Cell Root Canal Solution
Researchers created a two-sided scaffolding that guides the stem cells to regenerate both the pulp (blood vessels and nerve tissue) and the dentin. They’ve been able to regrow these two tissues, in the correct location, in the lab. The next step is to see if they can re-create the outcome in living tissues.
6. The Future of Root Canals
Instead of drilling into the tooth and removing the root canal and filling it, Endodontists will be able to replace the root canal with stem cells and a re-growth scaffolding. Then the root canal can re-grow and heal itself. This will allow for greater dental health; the tooth will remain alive and contain blood vessels and nerve tissue