Lasers heal damaged rodent teeth

Shining light on molars turns on stem cells, spurring regrowth of dentin

9:44am, May 30, 2014

LASER POWER  A brief blast of laser light spurs mouse dental cells, shown here in false color growing in a 3-D scaffold, to begin turning into cells that form dentin, the tough inner material of teeth. 

To rebuild damaged teeth, just add laser light.

Zaps from a low-power laser boost tooth growth in rodents, researchers report May 28 in Science Translational Medicine. The beams of light set off a molecular chain reaction that ends with the regeneration of dentin, the tough stuff inside teeth.

The findings may change the way dentists think about treating patients, says dental stem cell researcher Peter Murray of Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “It’s a new application for lasers in dentistry.”

Today, dentists and doctors can use lasers as high-tech scalpels to carve out damaged tissue, slice away overgrown gums or burn away tumors. But for years scientists have had hints that turning down a laser’s power could actually get cells growing.

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