A team of researchers from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, report that they have been able to re-form dental tissue.
Using low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS), the UA team created a miniaturized "system-on-a-chip" that offers a noninvasive and novel way to stimulate jaw growth and dental tissue healing.
The wireless design of the ultrasound transducer means the tiny device will be able to fit comfortably inside a patient’s mouth while packed in biocompatible materials. The unit will be mounted easily on an orthodontic bracket or a plastic removable crown. The team also designed an energy sensor that will ensure that the LIPUS power is reaching the target area of the tooth roots within the bone.
"If the root is broken, it can now be fixed," said Dr. Tarak El-Bialy of the UA faculty of medicine and dentistry. "And because we can regrow the teeth root, a patient could have his own tooth rather than foreign objects in his mouth."
The device is aimed at people experiencing dental root resorption, a common effect of injury to dental tissue caused by diseases and endocrine disturbances that can lead to a breakdown of the root structure of a tooth. Injury from wearing orthodontic braces also causes progressive root resorption, limiting the time that braces can be worn.
This new device will work to counteract the destructive resorptive process while allowing the patient to continue wearing the braces. With approximately 5 million people in North America wearing orthodontic braces, the market size for the device could be about 1.4 million people.
The researchers are working on turning their prototype into a market-ready model and expect the device to be ready for the public within the next two years.
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