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Stem Cells to Relieve Mouth and Face Pain?

In TMJ on July 12, 2011 at 4:30 AM

With technological advancements come new ways for the dental and medical communities to figure out how to make – and keep – us healthy. The application of stem cells for use in medicine has long been a pointed subject, sure to generate a debate even amongst the most impartial audience.

Dental stem cells, and the use or application of them in dentistry or medicine is not a debate we’re looking to sow here. Rather, we just aim to highlight the recent advancements in stem cell application that can benefit us, as dental patients.

Research into the harvesting and application of dental stem cells is still a relatively new field of study.

Some scientists, researchers, and doctors say we should run right out and start banking our stem cells wherever possible. Others of the same ilk recommend we wait for more research to prove the long-term viability of collecting and using dental stem cells.

Fact is, the use of dental stem cells has not yet been approved by the FDA. Until these two divergent politically influenced sectors of the stem cell argument join forces to improve health care rather than increase health care propaganda, we as the dental patient public are held in limbo.

Will dental stem cells enable us to instantaneously relieve pain, or generate a new tooth in a petri dish?

According to this article on stem cells and dentistry published last week from DentistryIQ;  Research from Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine shows for the first time that a particular type of stem cell, bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BMMSCs), can suppress orofacial pain rapidly — within one day of treatment — by either IV injection of cells or direct injection of cells to the injured site.

That sounds like very promising – although admittedly preliminary – results.

The DentistryIQ article goes on to mention how, in rat models, the pain never came back after stem cell injection. But in the untreated group, the pain lasted up to 22 weeks, or the length of the experimental period.

The Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine researchers simulated two types of pain: myogenic pain (by ligating, or tying up, the masticatory muscle tendon) and neuropathic pain (by tying up the nerve on the face).

Stem cells successfully reduced pain in both cases.

As noted in the article you can read here, clinical trials to treat recalcitrant orofacial pain is the next step toward the widespread application of what could be the biggest dental breakthrough since the invention of the toothbrush.

For more dental stem cell info, click over to this article on stem cells and dentistry, written by Bruce
G. Freund, DDS.

You can also click here to see the wealth of stem cell info provided by the National Institute of Health!