Millions of people suffer from dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, which can be very uncomfortable and even painful. At this point in time there are only palliative treatments such as mouth rinses and medications that attempt to stimulate salivary flow. A new study has shown that with the help of silk fibers, it may be possible to generate new salivary glands out of stem cells.
The causes of xerostomia include medication use, radiation treatments for head and neck cancers, autoimmune diseases, diabetes and the process of aging. The issue is that salivary glands have very poor regenerative capacity. As previously mentioned, there is no real cure for this condition. A team from the University of Texas at San Antonio has used silk fibers to provide salivary gland stem cells with a 3D scaffold on which to grow a matrix of salivary gland stem cells.
This is a noteworthy achievement because salivary gland stem cells are some of the most difficult cells to grow and retain their function, according to experts.
Saliva in our mouths is critical for initiating digestion, mitigating tooth decay, preventing oral infections, and aiding in swallowing and speech. Insufficiencies in salivary flow can lead to bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.
This news could bring relief to over 4 million individuals with the autoimmune disease called Sjögren's syndrome, where the body attacks its own tear ducts and salivary glands. In addition, post-radiation patients and the 50% of older Americans whose medications cause dry mouth could see benefits.
Eventually, they hope to use stem cells harvested from human bone marrow or umbilical cord blood to regenerate human salivary glands. The realm of dentistry is constantly evolving. You want providers who are up on the newest information and have a passion for optimal patient care. Contact our offices at Marion Dental Group to schedule an appointment. We look forward to the opportunity to help you achieve your oral health goals!