If you’ve read The Bad Breath Report, you already know that a dramatic series of recent genetic engineering breakthroughs have allowed scientists to completely regenerate lost teeth in animals and will be ready for human use within a few years.
In the meanwhile, however, those who have lost teeth can take heart that a team of researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada have developed an astonishing non-invasive nanotechnology that will re-grow teeth in less than 4-months.
They filed patents for a tiny wireless ultrasonic device — dubbed LIPUS, for Low-Intensity Pulsed UltraSound — in 2006.
Smaller than a pea, it gently massages gums and stimulates tooth growth when mounted on braces or a temporary plastic crown in a patient’s mouth. It is activated for 20 minutes a day, over a period of 4-months.
The device was designed by Dr. Jie Chen, a nano-biotechnologist at the University’s Engineering Department, and is based on research carried-out by Dr. Tarek El-Bialy, an Egyptian-born orthodontist, in the late 1990s.
In a study, published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Dr. El-Bialy used ultrasound on a rabbit that had undergone surgery on its jaw. He was surprised to find that, as well as re-generating its jaw-bone, the rabbit’s teeth also started to re-grow. He presented similar results for human patients at the World Federation of Orthodontics in Paris in September 2005.
The original ultrasonic devices were very big and, thus, very uncomfortable for patients to hold in their mouth for 20 minutes at a time.
However, when he moved to the University of Alberta, Dr. El-Bialy had a chance-encounter with Dr. Chen, and other members of the engineering faculty, who joined forces with him to radically miniaturise the technology.
According to Dr. Chen, as well as fixing broken teeth, LIPUS may also be used to correct a crooked smile, and may, eventually, allow people to grow taller by stimulating bone growth.
It has been approved by both Canadian and American regulatory bodies and a market-ready model is currently being prepared. LIPUS is expected to be commercially available before the end of 2011.World Federation of Orthodontics in Paris, meanwhile, grow, medical ultrasound, dentistry, tarek el bialy, at a, new teeth, months, ultrasonic devices