Lasers Take Healthcare to a New Level with Scientific Discovery
A Harvard team is the first to demonstrate the ability to use low-power laser therapy to trigger stem cells inside the body to regenerate tissue.
June 2014 Lightwaves Article, Spring 2014
A Harvard team is the first to demonstrate the ability to use low-power laser therapy to trigger stem cells inside the body to regenerate tissue. In this study, reported in Science Translational Medicine, they used focused laser light therapy on rodent teeth to stimulate the growth of new dentin.
These findings represent the first time that scientists have demonstrated how low-level laser treatments work on a molecular level in the dental scenarios. It lays the foundation for a host of possible future clinical uses in restorative dentistry and regenerative medicine. Applications for this therapy could include wound healing, bone, and tissue regeneration.
The study's lead author, Dr. Praveen Arany and his team hope to test this type of dentin regeneration in human clinical trials, which could potentially alter modern dentistry from restorative to a regenerative deliver of care. He is currently working with his colleagues at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) to outline the requisite safety and efficacy parameters to take this research to clinical human trials. Dr. Arany says “the barrier to clinical trial translation is relatively low.” The laser is already being used in contemporary dental offices today for other purposes.
According to Dr. Scott Benjamin President of the Academy of Laser Dentistry, "lasers and light based technologies are currently used by many forward thinking dental practitioners today for both routine and enhanced patient care. We are thrilled about the potential that this significant scientific discovery brings for the future of healthcare both in dentistry and systemic health. Today, the goal of healthcare is prevention and minimally invasive treatment. However, the concept of using light energy to regenerate tooth structures and other biologic tissues instead of replacing it, has the potential to take dental and overall healthcare to a new level, sure to enhance the quality of care and improve treatment outcomes. I along with our members of the ALD congratulate our colleague Dr. Arany and the entire Harvard team and thank them for the many laborious years spent on this exciting and vital research." As dentists, hygienists, researchers, and as dental patients, we want Dr. Arany and his team at the NIH to move forward with clinical applications. This scientific research is the first significant step on a long journey. Our society is still years away from most of the sensationalized and misinterpreted titles recently in the news, such as:
"Goodbye root canals? Researchers use lasers to regrow parts of teeth"
- Fox News
"Forget the dentist’s drill, use lasers to heal teeth" noting "Open wide, this won't hurt a bit..."
- New Scientist
"Could Root Canals Soon Be A Thing of the Past"?
- Huffington Post
The Science Daily's story has a more accurate title that seems to express the more realistic value and potential of this great research:
"Light coaxes stem cells to repair teeth: Noninvasive laser therapy could radically shift dental treatment."
Praveen Arany, DDS, PhD is an Academy of Laser Dentistry (ALD) member and Assistant Clinical Investigator at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Harvard graduate student and former postdoctoral fellow affiliated with Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute, Dr. Arany was the 2011 Academy of Laser Dentistry Dr. Eugene Seidner Student Scholarship honoree.
ALD is a not-for-profit international professional membership association of dental practitioners and supporting organizations dedicated to improving the health and well-being of patients through the safe and effective use of light energy and laser technology in dentistry. An industry thought leader and resource, the ALD shares current information and clinical experiences in the use of lasers and light based technologies with its members and the general public.
For More information, visit ALD at www.laserdentistry.org, or contact: Gail Siminovsky, by phone 954-346-3776, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gail Siminovsky CAE
[ Executive Director ]