Lasers have been used to regenerate parts of damaged teeth and could one day be used to prevent root canal treatments, claim US researchers.
The laser beam triggered a series of changes that led to the formation of new dentin, the layer below the enamel, in animal tests.
The results, in Science Translational Medicine, showed stem cells in the dental pulp were activated.
Experts said it was intriguing, but a long way from the dentist’s chair.
The team at Harvard University used a drill to remove part of a tooth in mice and rats.
One dose of laser therapy on the damaged tooth led to the production of a partial layer of dentin 12 weeks later.
It was not a perfect match for natural dentin, but the researchers argue it would be easier to achieve with human teeth, which would be larger, and by refining the laser.
The scientists could not produce a new layer of the hard enamel that protects the tooth from wear and tear.
However, Dr Praveen Arany said his research could have a role in preventing root canal treatment – the dreaded and painful procedure involving the removal of a tooth’s nerve and blood vessels.
Dental cement is currently used to trigger new dentin formation, but it is not always successful.