Scientists in Canada have patented an ultrasound device which they say will help regrow broken teeth.
A team at the University of Alberta have miniaturised a technology called low intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) so a wireless growth-stimulating 'chip' can be implanted into a patient's mouth.
The regenerative effect of LIPUS was discovered by Dr Tarak El-Baily while working on rabbit subjects. The inducer is targeted to "massage" the root of a tooth injured either mechanically or by disease. It stimulates new growth and counteracts the destructive process of dental resorption, which often means a damaged tooth has to be completely removed.
El-Baily said: "If the root is broken, it can now be fixed. And because we can regrow the teeth root, a patient could have his own tooth rather than foreign objects in his mouth."
Before El-Baily collaborated with circuit design specialists to shrink the device to smaller than a pea, test subjects had to hold a large LIPUS source to their mouth for 20 minutes daily for a whole year.
It's envisaged that the device could also be deployed to treat microsomia, a congenital underdevelopment of the lower jaw.
The prototype is now being turned into a marketable version, which the team hopes to have ready "within the next two years".®
If anyone is planning a UK roll-out of the device, one Reg hack requests participation in early trials after his right front tooth came off worst following a recent argument with a crab shell.