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Gel fillings may enhance root canal treatment, study shows

Authors Dr Kyounga Cheon (left) and Dr Sungchul Choi (right) and their colleagues designed a novel gel to fill teeth, enabling a better root canal treatment. (Photograph: Dr Kyounga Cheon and Dr Sungchul Choi)

Tue. 18. December 2018


SEOUL, South Korea/BIRMINGHAM, Ala., U.S.: Root canal treatments currently rely on clotted blood to fill the empty tooth canal. In order to find a more reliable, biodegradable filling that promotes healing and the regeneration of the tooth, scientists have developed a gel filling to use in the root canal treatment that releases nitric oxide and antibiotics inside the treated tooth.

The pilot study, conducted by Dr Choi from Kyung Hee University and Dr Cheon from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and their colleagues, showed that this new canal filling material has the potential to boost the regeneration of the impaired tooth.

The gel is made from peptide amphiphiles—molecules that self-assemble into gel-like structures depending on their charge. In order to add the nitric oxide, the researchers reacted the amphiphiles with poly-lysine as a nitric oxide donor before heat-induced polymerisation took place. The antibiotics ciprofloxacin and metronidazole were then encapsulated in the gel during the polymerisation process.

It was found that the nitric oxide-releasing gel had antibacterial effects. Also, nitric oxide helps wound healing and blood vessel growth by preventing death of blood vessel cells (vascular endothelial cells) and by regulating vascular endothelial growth factor. This allows the interior of the treated tooth to regenerate.

The antibacterial effect of nitric oxide that the authors observed in their study might actually allow them to omit the conventional antibiotics completely in the future. Additionally, Choi and Cheon want to supplement the gel with growth factors in order to support the growth factors that are naturally present in the treated tooth.

The study, titled “Effects of the nitric oxide releasing biomimetic nanomatrix gel on pulp-dentin regeneration: Pilot study,” was published in PLOS ONE on 11 October 2018.

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