There are many news articles about a device that can supposedly regrow teeth. Reports started about 13 years ago in 2006. Below is an audio interview with Dr. Tarek El-Bialy, an update from 2014 the summary of which he says at the end is, “With LIPUS there is no way we can create new teeth right now. … It stimulates the root to grow, not the whole tooth. Maybe in the future using stem cells, (assisted by LIPUS) but you have to have to have the specific cells that create dentin, cementum and enamel.”
Broke a Tooth? Grow it Back..
EDMONTON – Long used as a test for pregnant women, ultrasound may soon have a new role — growing teeth.
Long used as a test for pregnant women, ultrasound may soon have a new role — growing teeth. The idea originated with Dr. Tarek El-Bialy, an Egyptian-born orthodontist who joined the university’s faculty of dentistry a year ago. El-Bialy has shown in earlier research that ultrasound waves, the high frequency sound waves normally used for diagnostic imaging, help bones heal and tooth material grow.
“I was using ultrasound to stimulate bone formation after lower-jaw lengthening in rabbits,” El-Bialy said in an interview Tuesday. To his surprise, not only did he help heal the rabbits’ jaws after the surgery, but their teeth started to grow as well.
He later did a human study to see if ultrasound could prevent damage to the roots of teeth when people wear braces. Braces force the teeth to move, and that can cause root damage. That study, published in 2004, showed that a tooth getting a daily shot of ultrasound was protected from damage, and in fact had more dental tissue than before …
The Edmonton Journal June 28, 2006
Smile! A New Canadian Tool Can Regrow Teeth Say Inventors
Snaggle-toothed hockey players and sugar lovers may soon rejoice as Canadian scientists said they have created the first device able to re-grow teeth and bones. The researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton filed patents earlier this month in the United States for the tool based on low-intensity pulsed ultrasound technology after testing it on a dozen dental patients in Canada.
“Right now, we plan to use it to fix fractured or diseased teeth, as well as asymmetric jawbones, but it may also help hockey players or children who had their tooth knocked out,” Jie Chen, an engineering professor and nano-circuit design expert, told AFP.
Chen helped create the tiny ultrasound machine that gently massages gums and stimulates tooth growth from the root once inserted into a person’s mouth, mounted on braces or a removable plastic crown. The wireless device, smaller than a pea, must be activated for 20 minutes each day for four months to stimulate growth, he said. It can also stimulate jawbone growth to fix a person’s crooked smile and may eventually allow people to grow taller by stimulating bone growth, Chen said.
Dentist, Engineer Team up to Regrow Teeth
A tiny ultrasound device could help people regrow teeth, researchers at the University of Alberta say. The prototype device offers a way to reform human dental tissue for the first time, the team said Wednesday. Everyone from hockey players to children who knock out a tooth could benefit. The treatment, called low-intensity pulsed ultrasound, massages the gums to stimulate jaws, encourage growth in the roots of teeth and aid healing in dental tissue.
“If the root is broken, it can now be fixed,” said Dr. Tarak El-Bialy of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. “And because we can regrow the teeth root, a patient could have his own tooth rather than foreign objects in his mouth.”
EDMONTON – Long used as a test for pregnant women, ultrasound may soon have a new role — growing teeth. A team of University of Alberta researchers is seeking a U.S. patent on a tiny device that will sit inside the mouth and beam ultrasound waves at teeth. The device won’t help Ryan Smyth, the Edmonton Oiler who lost three teeth in the hockey playoffs, but it may prevent tooth damage that can occur from wearing braces. … El-Bialy also has work to do. So far, he has been able to stimulate growth of the inner part of teeth, but not the enamel. That’s why he can’t regrow Ryan Smyth’s teeth. He’s starting new research to try to use ultrasound to repair cracked or broken teeth. The researchers estimate their LIPUS device will be ready for public use within two years.
email@example.com // © The Edmonton Journal 2006
Susan Ruttan, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Wednesday, June 28, 2006
I have not seen a single tooth re-growing device appear for the public since this article came out. Bring that new tooth grower out for us, it’s time!
Yes, it is possible to repair and even regrow your teeth using a completely natural method that is actually based on science. A team of Alberta researchers applied for a patent that claims they created a miniature device that will stimulate the jaw bones and gums around the affected tooth. Using the low intensity ultrasound technology, they claim they were able to regrow the root of a tooth and stimulate tooth grow and repair.
Although the technology is not going to be in your local dental office for a few years, I believe we don’t have to wait for it and apply the common sense to do the whole process ourselves. First, we need a low frequency ultrasound source and from all the legally (you can’t buy a real ultrasound machine unless you are a doctor) available sources two come to mind.
First is a Novasonic Massager that can generate a sound vibration of 20,000 Hertz. It is not your regular massager and all you have to do is slightly touch the skin and you can feel the sound waves go deep within your body. I have one myself and love using it.
Second device is more sophisticated and you can find them selling on Ebay. The link searches for the Ebay results for “ultrasound massager” and you will see a bunch of them selling from $100 to $150. They are much more powerful then a Novasonic model and can generate up to 3-5 mHz frequency, so be very careful when using one. You should get one that generates only 1-2 mHz, as 3-5 mHz vibrations don’t go very far – about 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch deep.
So, what I do is I apply the sound waves from the device to my teeth and gums for a few minutes every day and get a gentle but thorough massage this way.
via How to regrow or repair bad teeth naturally.
I have a tooth I’d like to regrow. Has this worked for anyone? I want to do this so if any doctors know of cancer risks from ultrasounding your tooth roots and jaw, speak up. Or if the people in Alberta have any tips based on their research, let us know. This from Science Daily:
ScienceDaily (June 28, 2006) — Hockey players, rejoice! A team of University of Alberta researchers has created technology to regrow teeth – the first time scientists have been able to reform human dental tissue. … Using low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS), Dr. Tarak El-Bialy from the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and Drs. Jie Chen and Ying Tsui from the Faculty of Engineering have created a miniaturized system-on-a-chip that offers a non-invasive and novel way to stimulate jaw growth and dental tissue healing.
“It’s very exciting because we have shown the results and actually have something you can touch and feel that will impact the health of people in Canada and throughout the world,” said Chen, who works out of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the National Institute for Nanotechnology.
The wireless design of the ultrasound transducer means the miniscule device will be able to fit comfortably inside a patient’s mouth while packed in biocompatible materials. The unit will be easily mounted on an orthodontic or “braces” bracket or even a plastic removable crown. The team also designed an energy sensor that will ensure the LIPUS power is reaching the target area of the teeth roots within the bone. TEC Edmonton, the U of A’s exclusive tech transfer service provider, filed the first patent recently in the U.S. Currently, the research team is finishing the system-on-a-chip and hopes to complete the miniaturized device by next year.
“If the root is broken, it can now be fixed,” said El-Bialy. “And because we can regrow the teeth root, a patient could have his own tooth rather than foreign objects in his mouth.” – ScienceDaily
I started writing this many years ago but gave up on regrowing a tooth myself. Dr. El-Bialy said you need a minimum of 20 minutes per day and also mentioned that in his research he’s seen a proliferation of cancer cells, so LIPUS is not recommended for people who had per-existing cancer.
Here is Dr. El-Bialy’s profile including his current work. Here is the patent application for the ultrasound device that can regrow teeth.
Ultrasound works to regrow teeth according to this site which does not seem to have been recently updated:
This is about our eighteen month test of using LIPUS to regrow pulp and dentin at an accelerated rate for mature and senior people. The process invigorates the inside of our teeth for increased healthier tissue. The added growth of dentin bolsters the enamel as it was when you were a younger person. In addition to the above an increase of density in mandible bone and upper tooth support solidifies tooth roots. Our experience shows a solid bite equal to that in our teenage years. The ringing of teeth when biting down hard, which we had forgotten entirely, was back again. Professor Paul Sharpe, Head of the Department of Craniofacial Development, King’s College London stated: “A key medical advantage of this new technology is that a living tooth can preserve the health of the surrounding tissues much better than artificial prosthesis. Teeth are living, and they are able to respond to a person’s bite. They move, and in doing so they maintain the health of the surrounding gums and teeth.”
At the present time our technology is at the stage where regrowing teeth is limited to teeth with live roots. The inner part of the tooth, dentin is alive and in regrowing will expand into its initial, youthful proportions. The dentin thereby puts equal pressure on the Enamel part of the tooth as in the younger person. This naturally recurring rejuvenation has a propensity to expel such parts of the tooth enamel which have previously been broken, which may result in its loss. Our experience is based on our use of this methodology and equipment and is now in its third year. Any person planning to use this Canadian LIPUS technique can inquire with questions to our test section. – hopp , lipus.org
This is an update from 2014, including an audio interview that said they were in clinical trials and the technology should be available in a few years. It sounds like the only use at first will be to keep tooth roots from shortening as they are moved by dental braces.
A few days ago we got a comment by someone calling themselves Pete who linked to an interview given where the Canadian Dr. Tarek El-Bialy was being interviewed on his Ultrasound Device & technology to use to regrow teeth, but stimulating the root of the teeth. … Originally we had written about the technology in a very old post “Teeth Regrowth Using Low Intensity Pulsed Ultrasound, LIPUS“. The researcher we mentioned in that article was a Dr. Jie Chen, also in Canada who claimed that they could use Ultrasound to not just make bones heal fractures but make people grow taller, which was something that was edited into the Wikipedia article on LIPUS (Low Intensity Pulsed Ultrasound).
However, the technology of LIPUS on nerve tissue and teeth regeneration is much more promising. As Dr. El-Bialy (Associate Professor of Orthodontics and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Alberta, Canada) seems to suggest, LIPUS can regenerate damaged nerves and root pulp.
You can download the MP3 of that interview wth Dr. El-Bialy Available Here
Dr. El-Bialy says in the audio interview in 2014 that LIPUS can regenerate damaged dentin and they are working on regeneration of pulp as well. It won’t bother a filling, he says, it only works in the roots, the part of the tooth that is inside the bone.
What about regrowing the crown, the hard part of the tooth that we see?!
That’s the big bad claim in 2006 that got everyone interested in this technology. Regrowing teeth does not mean just regrowing roots, it means regrowing whole teeth. Frustratingly, Dr. El-Bialy when asked in the 2014 interview about growing enamel, acts as if he didn’t know where enamel comes from back in 2006.
“The Crown material part is enamel, which is … tough, because once the enamel is … formed … the cells that form the enamel … very hard to regenerate. It’s not like odontoblasts, cementoblasts, exists ever in the teeth … so … it might happen in the future …”
Excuse my annoyance, but damn it. Yeah, we who follow this kind of science knew the origins of tooth enamel back in 2006. There were papers on these cells, ameloblasts, and enamel formation back in 1994. Didn’t Dr. El-Bialy supposedly regrow teeth, whole teeth, in rabbits? Well, if we go back and read closely, the only claim was that he regrew dental tissue, not whole teeth.
Dr. El-Bialy first discovered new dental tissue was being formed after using ultrasound on rabbits. In one study, published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, El Bialy used ultrasound on one rabbit incisor and left the other incisor alone. After seeing the surprising positive results, he moved onto humans and found similar results.
Argh. What did we think, that the ultrasound stimulated cells to make tooth enamel? Actually yes, that’s what we thought, that LIPUS somehow triggered new ameloblasts to make new enamel, as well as odontoblasts to make new dentin.
Ameloblasts are Source)
which secrete the and which will later mineralize to form enamel, the hardest substance in the human body. (
The formation of tooth enamel takes place before the tooth erupts in a confined extracellular environment between dentin and ameloblast cells (enamel-making cells). A series of physiological and chemical events including gene expression, protein secretion, protein folding and assembly, mineral growth, and protein degradation are involved in making enamel. Because mature enamel post-tooth eruption does not contain cells and does not remodel, synthetic enamel is necessary for enamel regeneration. (Source)
The cells that make enamel are sensitive to the environment, so it did not seem far fetched.
Ameloblasts are sensitive to environmental influences that perturb the requisite processes of amelogenesis. Over 100 environmental stressors can cause enamel defects (Suckling and Pearce, 1984). (Source)
And there was research that odontoblasts can make new dentin.
… Odontoblasts Secrete New Dentin after Superficial Tooth Injury (Source)
As it turns out the phrase “regrowing teeth” used in the media in 2006 should have rightly been “regrowing parts of teeth” not whole teeth. He sees regeneration in the dentin in the roots (the hidden longest parts of the tooth), but in the 2014 interview says he has not seen the regeneration of the dentin move up into the rest of the tooth, perhaps because the crown material may not be a good conductor of the sound to get at the dentin it surrounds. Crums.
Well, it could still repair broken teeth at the roots then, perhaps, by shaking up the structure of the tooth with sound. It makes sense to me that a little physical damage would trigger regrowth, but this is something you’d want the benefit of research in determining what works and what is safe. Here are the technical specs that seem best for regrowing teeth:
Low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) is a medical technology, generally using 1.5 MHz frequency pulses, with a pulse width of 200 Åºs, repeated at 1 kHz, at a spatial average and temporal average intensity of 30 mW/cm2, 20 minutes/day.
Applications of LIPUS include:
- Promoting bone-fracture healing.
- Treating orthodontically induced root resorption.
- Regrow missing teeth.
- Enhancing mandibular growth in children with hemifacial microsomia.
- Promoting healing in various soft tissues such as cartilage, inter vertebral disc.
- Improving muscle healing after laceration injury.
Researchers at the University of Alberta have used LIPUS to gently massage teeth roots and jawbones to cause growth or regrowth, and have grown new teeth in rabbits after lower jaw surgical lengthening (Distraction osteogenesis) (American Journal of Orthodontics, 2002). As of June 2006, a larger device has been licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada for use by orthopedic surgeons. A smaller device that fits on braces has also been developed but is still in the investigational stage and is not available to the public.
Here’s another site with a LIPUS device described, a bone healing device.
Low Intensity Pulsed Ultrasound (LIPUS) is a medical technology generally using 1.5 MHZ (1.5 million cycles/sec) pulses with a pulse width of 200 μs, repeated at 1 kHz, at an intensity of 30 mw/cm2, 20 minutes/day. The LIPUS treatment characteristics correspond to a device, the Exogen 4000, manufactured by the Smith & Nephew Company, which is FDA approved to treat certain types of bone breaks which are slow to heal. The unit will set you back about $4k if you lack insurance. (Source)
Will a tooth regrowing device ever be available? I hope so, but after over ten years of waiting, I seriously doubt it from LIPUS tecnology. Here is something that looks and sounds more promising:
“A new technique pioneered at the Tissue Engineering, and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory of Dr. Jeremy Mao, Edward V. Zegarelli Professor of Dental Medicine, and a professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia University can orchestrate the body’s stem cells to migrate to three-dimensional scaffold that is infused with the growth factor. This can yield an anatomically correct tooth in as soon as nine weeks once implanted in the mouth.” (Dentistry iQ)
That is right. Scientists can help the body grow a new tooth in about two months. Gone will be the days of dentures and painful tooth implants.
The work of Dr. Mao and his laboratory, however, holds manifold promise: a more natural process, faster recovery times, and a harnessing of the body’s potential to regrow tissue that will not give out and could ultimately last the patient’s lifetime.
By homing stem cells to a scaffold made of natural materials and integrated in surrounding tissue, there is no need to use harvested stem cell lines, or create a an environment outside of the body (e.g., a Petri dish) where the tooth is grown and then implanted once it has matured.
The tooth instead can be grown “orthotopically,” or in the socket where the tooth will integrate with surrounding tissue in ways that are impossible with hard metals or other materials.
“A key consideration in tooth regeneration is finding a cost-effective approach that can translate into therapies for patients who cannot afford or who aren’t good candidates for dental implants,” Dr. Mao said. “Cell-homing-based tooth regeneration may provide a tangible pathway toward clinical translation.”
This study is published in the Journal of Dental Research, a top journal in the field of dentistry.
The tooth is an organ, a rather complicated one at that. Some organs regenerate naturally if given the right conditions. The human liver is famous in this ability, but heart, kidneys, endometrium, vas deferens, fingers and toes have been observed to do some self-regeneration. Using a technique with a scaffold populated by stem cells, several human organs have been induced to regenerate successfully. These include:
So far, not teeth, however. I still find the idea and promise of regenerative medicine exciting, but there should be strong warnings for researchers against making any claims in the media like “a few years from now” when the truth may well be closer to a few decades or more.
The year 2020 is here, but we still can’t re-grow complete human teeth.