Susan Ruttan, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Wednesday, June 28, 2006 ( Look part at bottom says, can't regrow Ryan smith's Teeth )
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
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
And it may do much more than that. The research team envisages bandages embedded with tiny ultrasound machines that may some day be wrapped around
broken legs to help the bone heal more quickly.
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
"The problem was that the ultrasound device we were using was very big, and the patient had to hold it in his mouth for 20 minutes every day,"
When he moved to the U of A, he joined forces with two members of the engineering faculty, Jie Chen and Ying Tsui, to design an ultrasound machine
small enough to sit inside a person's mouth. Chen is an expert in small-circuit devices, Tsui in ultrasound. They think it will take a year to create
a workable ultrasound device less than a centimetre long, small enough to attach to braces or to a plastic temporary crown and powered by a tiny
Tsui said once the device -- which has been named LIPUS, for low-intensity pulsed ultrasound -- is created, it can be used for a variety of purposes.
One idea is to make bandages embedded with tiny ultrasound devices, for healing broken bones.
Ultrasound has also been shown to stimulate the growth of stem cells, the cells that create all other cells, he said. An ultrasound device could be
made for triggering stem cell reproduction.
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.
firstname.lastname@example.org // © The Edmonton Journal 2006
edit on 20-2-2012 by googolplex because: (no reason given)