Children and young adults needed for study that could help save infected teeth

SAN ANTONIO (Sept. 4, 2014) – Children and young adults ages 6 to 20 who need a root canal are being sought for a clinical trial that will test two new dental techniques involving regenerative dentistry. The new procedures may help not only clear up tooth infections, but make it possible for the infected tooth to continue growing and developing to its full potential. This UT Health Science Center San Antonio clinical trial will use patient’s own oral stem cells to regenerate teeth.

The study is being led by Anibal Diogenes, D.D.S., Ph.D., an assistant professor of endodontics at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Endodontists specialize in the internal part, or pulp, of the tooth.

The clinical trial will be conducted at UT Dentistry, the clinical practice of the School of Dentistry at the UT Health Science Center, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive.

The study will test two new root canal techniques that involve placing stems cells from the patient’s own gums into the infected tooth to induce regeneration. As a comparison, a third group of patients will receive the current conventional root canal treatment.

Conventional therapy involves treating the infection and then filling the inside of the tooth with an inert material to prevent reinfection. Unfortunately, with conventional therapy the tooth can no longer grow or develop. “We have found that only regenerative endodontics can restore the vitality of the tooth,” Dr. Diogenes said.

“In children, it can take more than two years for a new tooth to fully develop after it comes in through the gum. The dental pulp drives this development. If the tooth becomes infected, the pulp begins to die,” he explained.

“If infected teeth are not treated, it can lead to tooth loss,” Dr. Diogenes said. “Tooth loss in a child can be devastating. When the tooth is lost, the remaining teeth can shift, affecting function, aesthetics and even facial development. We are intent on not only treating the infection, but enabling the tooth to continue growing and developing to its full function.”

The Health Science Center is playing a major role in this research. Dr. Diogenes led the first clinical study that proved children’s oral stem cells could regenerate their teeth. The discovery led to Health Science Center dental researchers contributing to the definition of the term “regenerative endodontics” and to the national guidelines for dental practitioner.

The current research is funded by a $1.7 million grant from the American Association of Endodontists Foundation, with supplemental funding from the School of Dentistry.

“We hope to develop this process in children and then bring it to adult patients,” Dr. Diogenes said.

For more information about the study, call UT Dentistry’s Advanced Endodontic Clinic at 210-567-3355. Potential patients must have an immature (open apex) permanent tooth with the diagnosed need for a root canal.

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