Canadians go ultrasonic for tooth regrowth implant
Shane MacGowan on the first plane to Alberta
Scientists in Canada have patented an ultrasound device which they say will help regrow broken teeth.
A team at the University of Alberta have miniaturised a technology called low intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) so a wireless growth-stimulating 'chip' can be implanted into a patient's mouth.
The regenerative effect of LIPUS was discovered by Dr Tarak El-Baily while working on rabbit subjects. The inducer is targeted to "massage" the root of a tooth injured either mechanically or by disease. It stimulates new growth and counteracts the destructive process of dental resorption, which often means a damaged tooth has to be completely removed.
El-Baily said: "If the root is broken, it can now be fixed. And because we can regrow the teeth root, a patient could have his own tooth rather than foreign objects in his mouth."
Before El-Baily collaborated with circuit design specialists to shrink the device to smaller than a pea, test subjects had to hold a large LIPUS source to their mouth for 20 minutes daily for a whole year.
It's envisaged that the device could also be deployed to treat microsomia, a congenital underdevelopment of the lower jaw.
The prototype is now being turned into a marketable version, which the team hopes to have ready "within the next two years".®
If anyone is planning a UK roll-out of the device, one Reg hack requests participation in early trials after his right front tooth came off worst following a recent argument with a crab shell.