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News Link • Science, Medicine and Technology

Laser therapy could replace dental drills and fillings forever

•, Michael Trei
 Lasers have been used by dentists for years both for tooth whitening, and in place of a drill for prepping a cavity. That's great, but when it comes to actually filling the hole, we're still stuck with the age old trowel and spackle approach.

What if your broken teeth could be made to heal by themselves, in much the same way as your skin and bones will grow back after trauma? That's the thinking behind a new type of laser therapy that uses infrared laser light to stimulate natural tooth growth.

Researchers at Harvard University's Wyss Institute have been working on methods to stimulate this type of natural tooth repair, and they think they have found a winner using an infrared laser technique called low-level light therapy. They drilled holes in the teeth of rats, and discovered that when they directed an infrared laser at the affected area, it stimulated stem cells to create new dentin, the basic building block material used at the core of teeth.

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