Mar 31, 2016 | By Alec

Dentists. For some reason, they are among the most feared professionals in the world, with some experts suggesting that up to 75 percent of US adults have dental phobia to some extent. But the discomfort and stigma of loose or missing teeth is also something that should be avoided at all costs, and one Australian researcher and periodontist believes 3D bioprinting could offer a solution. Periodontist Professor Saso Ivanovski, from Griffith University's Menzies Institute, has pioneered the use of 3D bioprinting technology to regrow missing teeth and bone using a patient’s own cells. It could, he believes, revolutionize dentistry.

Of course various research projects are working on all forms of 3D bioprinted tissue, from blood vessels, to skin and even organs. Teeth or jaws, however, are rarely featured in those lists – even though it’s an area of the human body that a lot of people have problems with. Ivanovski has therefore been granted a National Health and Medical Research Council Grant of $650,000 AUD (about $500,000 USD) for a three year study on bioprinting completely new, bespoke bone and gum tissue that can be implanted into patients’ jawbones.

If you’ve had teeth or part of a jaw replaced yourself, you’ll know that the current method is everything but easy on the patient. “In many cases there is not enough bone for dental implant placement, and bone grafts are usually taken from another part of the body, usually their jaw, but occasionally it has to be obtained from their hip or skull,” the professor explains. “These procedures are often associated with significant pain, nerve damage and postoperative swelling, as well as extended time off work for the patient.”

3D bioprinting can avoid that strain on the patient, while also ensuring a perfect fit. “The groundbreaking approach begins with a [CT scan] of the affected jaw, prior to the design of a replacement part using computer-assisted design,” he says. “A specialized 3D bioprinter, which is set at the correct physiological temperature (in order to avoid destroying cells and proteins) is then able to successfully fabricate the gum structures that have been lost to disease - bone, ligament and tooth cementum - in one single process. The cells, the extracellular matrix and other components that make up the bone and gum tissue are all included in the construct and can be manufactured to exactly fit the missing bone and gum for a particular individual.”

This 3D printing alternative, he argues, is much less invasive than bone replacement. It also reduces the risk of follow-up complications caused by the removal of bone elsewhere in the body. “We also won't have the problem of limited supply that we have when using the patient's own bone,” he adds. In the long run, 3D bioprinting will even become a less costly way of augmenting jaw bones because those invasive surgeries are no longer necessary.

Most importantly, the risk of infection and rejection is lowered significantly, while it even encourages growth into the surrounding tissue. “At the end of the whole process, you wouldn't be able to identify what is old bone and new,” Professor Ivanovski said. The project is currently in pre-clinical trials. “By the end of the year we want to start implanting some of the constructs in some of the more straightforward processes, Ivanovski concludes. If all goes well, human testing can start within one to two years. Perhaps in a few years from now, going to the dentist will be a lot less scary than it used to be.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Alvaro wrote at 4/4/2016 1:30:52 PM:

i hope this initiative awakens the interest of others research teams worldwide.

Another wrote at 4/2/2016 10:19:35 PM:

Hope that goes to the market soon...

Alvaro wrote at 3/31/2016 5:36:59 PM:

At last! A very good news!

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