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The days of root canals are, and filings may be shortly coming to an end thanks to a new clinical trial involving stem cells from baby teeth.

Your body has a lot of natural self-healing capabilities. However, one area that your body can’t repair on its own is your teeth. When a child injures a permanent tooth at a young age, the tooth will never be able to heal. However, in a new clinical trial, there has been promising results that show that the stem cells from a patient’s baby teeth can heal a damaged tooth.

The stem cells that are extracted from the baby teeth are known as human deciduous pulp stem cells (hDPSC). These stem cells may help to replenish the innermost soft tissue of a tooth. Once extracted from a baby tooth, the cells are reproduced in a lab culture. When the culture is developed, it is then implanted into an injured tooth.

To put the theory to action, University of Pennsylvania conducted a trial in China. Researchers selected 40 children who had an injured a permanent incisor but still had baby teeth. Of the 40 children, 30 were assigned the experimental treatment, and 10 were assigned to the controlled treatment, apexification.

Researchers followed up with patients a year later and found that those who received hDPSC had regained sensation in the tooth. The control group, on the other hand, did not experince the same effects.

Songtao Shi, the co-lead author of the study, explained that the hDPSC patients had living teeth once again. After the treatment, the patients responded to both a warm and cold stimulation. Shi confirms that after three years of follow-up data, it has been a safe and effective therapy.

Throughout the years, follow-ups with patients have proven to be a success. Those treated with hDPSC showed signs of healthy root development, thicker dentin, and increased blood flow.

Researchers were even given the opportunity to examine one of the rejuvenated teeth. One patient from the study reinjured the treated incisor and had to get it removed. Upon examination of the tooth, researchers were able to note an increase of blood vessels inside the tooth pulp as well as dentin and connective tissue.

While the results do seem promising, the breakthrough won’t help adults who no longer have baby teeth. In the future, researchers plan to test hDPSCs donated from others. However, there is a chance that the body will reject the implant because of the foreign cells.