When you are considering dental implants, one of the important factors to consider is whether you have enough bone to support the implant. If you don’t have enough to begin with, you may be able to build up enough with a bone graft. However, bone grafts have a degree of uncertainty, so researchers are always looking for ways to improve their speed, success, and the ease of the procedure.
Now researchers at Rice University have developed something they hope will help: a liquid material that turns to a gel in the body and may serve as a good scaffold for new bone growth. Although its in the early stages of testing, researchers believe it may represent a significant improvement for the dental implant procedure, and that’s just the beginning.
Scaffolds: Promises and Limitations
In encouraging healing, it’s often beneficial to supply the body with a scaffold so the tissue can grow back in an appropriate shape and is more resilient against damage during the early stages of growth.
However, most of the scaffolding material proposed to help with tissue regrowth is solid, which means it has to be cut to fit in the area where you want to grow new tissue. Conventional scaffolding also has the potential to interfere with growth: it must be absorbed by the body to make room for full density structures.
A New Approach to the Problem.
This new liquid solves that problem. Because it’s liquid, all that has to be done is that the material has to be injected into the void, and it will automatically fill the space, giving a regeneration scaffold wherever necessary.
But, wait, you may ask, wouldn’t the liquid then just flow out again? No, because the liquid transforms to a gel at human body temperatures. This gel allows new bone cells to grow in and among its matrix. Then, unlike conventional solid scaffolding, the gel can be reliquified, allowing it to be removed so the body can finish growing on its own.
We’re a long way from applying this technique in dental implant procedures, but so far researchers have shown that they can cause make the liquid to gel transformation at human body temperature, and that the gel can protect stem cells and growth factors currently used to stimulate bone growth in grafting procedures.
However, if you would like to learn about the current state-of-the-art techniques in dental implants and how they can help you, please contact Country Club Dentistry in Rancho Mirage today.