Researchers from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) have developed a process involving bioprinting that can engineer blood vessels in extracted teeth.
The findings are expected to have impact on root canal treatments which currently involves removing the tooth’s infected pulp and replacing it with a substance known as gutta-percha. This thermoplastic material is similar to rubber and is used to fill the inside of the tooth but cannot restore function since it removes the blood vessels.
This new research from Oregon hopes to alleviate this problem and restore function to patients’ teeth. Leading the research Luiz Bertassoni, assistant professor of restorative dentistry in the OHSU School of Dentistry, explains that for this reason current techniques are not sufficient. As he says,
This process eliminates the tooth’s blood and nerve supply, rendering it lifeless and void of any biological response or defense mechanism. Without this functionality, adult teeth may be lost much sooner, which can result in much greater concerns, such as the need for dentures or dental implants,
The new approach uses pre-vascularized pulp-like tissue to promote dental pulp regeneration and allow for a better long-term treatment. According to Bertassoni, the research built upon a prior study into the bioprinting of blood vessels. Bioprinting shows much promise in this regard and Californian scientists recently presented their successful research into bioprinted functioning blood vessels. The team were able to showcase their bioprinted vessels could form into an existing framework when implanted into mice and even began circulating blood.