Endodontists use stem cell treatment to save children's teeth

Dec. 5, 2006
Innovative approach forgoes the use of traditional root canal therapy.

An article in the December 2006 issue of the Journal of Endodontics, a publication of the American Association of Endodontists, reported that endodontists were able to save the teeth of four children without the use of traditional root canal therapy.

Instead, the endodontists fostered the growth of the stem cells surrounding the tooth root, therefore allowing the children to regenerate new root tissue and ultimately to save their natural teeth. The children were nine to 10 years old and had experienced an injury or had severe endodontic disease in a permanent adult tooth.

While root canal treatment is effective in children, the tissue in young adult teeth has a rich blood supply and proximity to the stem cells outside the tooth, so the endodontists developed this technique to use on tissue more responsive to regeneration.

The article "Immature Teeth with Periradicular Periodontitis or Abscess Undergoing Apexogenesis: A Paradigm Shift," details four cases involving kids, where endodontists irrigated the affected area of the inner tooth with a cleaning solution instead of using endodontic files or other instruments, and successfully facilitated the regeneration of the root tissue.

This treatment approach not only saved their natural teeth, but also allowed the young tooth to continue its development into a healthy adult tooth. This is critical to long-term oral health since tooth loss at a young age can result in additional dental complications and possible facial disfigurement.

The findings detailed in the article may allow endodontists to save even more of kids' adult teeth by encouraging the natural development to continue, allowing for healthy, strong teeth into adulthood.

For more information or to contact an endodontist familiar with this research, contact Meg O'Connor at (312) 233-1322 or meg.o'[email protected].