David Mooney’s lab has demonstrated the use of triacrylates TMPTA and PETA as tools for the repair of dental tissues. They found that dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) adhered to these triacrylate polymers, which had been cured by visible light, and maintained their ability to proliferate and to differentiate into dentin-producing cells. In the injured molars of rats, the triacrylates remained in direct contact with pulp tissue after eight weeks, and showed qualitatively similar pulp tissue to that exposed to conventional dental fillings. This included calcification and necrosis, but no signs of pathology or infection. This demonstrates that the triacrylates function like conventional dental filling materials, but are additionally stem-cell compatible. This additional function could allow for combination with stem cell therapies to promote regeneration of the dentin-pulp complex.
Tooth decay is the most prevalent oral disease worldwide, with an estimated three billion untreated cases. Such injuries that expose dental pulp cause irreversible damage that requires root canal surgery after tissue necrosis. Current materials used as fillings do not support the native function of dental pulp stem cells, and therefore cannot restore the dentin-pulp complex. These new permanent restorative materials, however, provide a supportive niche for DPSCs. They could be used clinically with stem-cell therapies to promote regeneration of the dentin-pulp complex. TMPTA specifically provides additional antimicrobial properties, which could broaden its potential applications as a medical device.