With current advances in regenerative medicine, the applications have grown in the dental field. My interest in regenerative medicine and its applications for regenerating bone and tissue began during my residency years. During this time my curiosity led me to pursue a Master’s degree in Regenerative Medicine while completing my residency. It is here where I learned the foundation of what could be possible and reach the limits of our potential in growing tissues for reconstructive applications.
Regenerative medicine’s applications come in the form of growth factors which may be patient-derived or recombinant growth factors to aid in the growth and repair of dental tissues. Patient-derived growth factors are drawn from the patient directly for processing. Usually, the medium for this source is the patient’s blood or fat. Recombinant growth factors are made in a lab; using animal cells as factories to produce the human growth factors. This is done by inserting a human gene into the animal cell and using the cell’s machinery to make the human protein growth factor.
Growth factors are proteins that stimulate the growth of a cell. Usually, it functions as a hormone that controls the growth and differentiation of certain cell tissues. Growth factors typically act as signaling molecules between cells to aid in the repair and regeneration of the tissue.
In our practice, our patient-derived growth factors come from the patient’s blood. Usually prior to the patient’s procedure the adequate amount of blood is painlessly drawn from the arm. Then using a centrifuge the blood is prepared into multiple mediums depending on the required use.
From the patient’s blood, we can prepare platelet-rich plasma (PRP), platelet-rich fibrin (PRF), and special growth factor impregnated membranes all to aid in soft tissue and bone regeneration. These applications can also be used for cosmetic purposes as lip fillers or rejuvenators to enhance appearance. Similar to what has been popularly called the Vampire Facelift. These growth factors are derived from the platelets which are naturally found in human blood. During the processing, these platelets and their growth factors are concentrated to give the tissues a boost of proteins to aid in the healing and regeneration of the surgical site. For doctors who are interested in this process or procedure, I give an annual course on the use and applications of these platelet-derived growth factors.
At Perio Clinic Oakville, our use of recombinant growth factors mainly centers around the saving natural teeth. When tissues that create the support and attachment of natural teeth begin to break down due to disease or trauma, we use a recombinant protein gel to regenerate the bone and ligaments around the teeth to return them to a healthy stable state.
Another recombinant factor that we use is for growing bone is severe defects. These growth factors are called Bone Morphogenetic Proteins and have the ability to stimulate bone growth. This recombinant protein is however very expensive and so it is reserved for certain types of defects when we need all the help we can get.
As technology improves so does the tools we have to rebuild tissues. In the future, rather than using growth factors to help grow tissues at a surgical site, we may be able to bioprint tissues for direct insertion into the defect site. For more information about regenerative medical applications please feel free to contact us.