If you’re suffering from a dry mouth, it may be because many of your salivary glands have ceased to function properly. When this happens, your mouth has a reduced ability to clean your teeth and fight infections. Unfortunately, when a salivary gland becomes inoperable, it is not very good at repairing itself. This is why research coming out of the University of Texas in San Antonio is so important.
This research, which is described in Tissue Engineering Part A, involves using cell therapy to build new salivary glands for patients. The team has had some success in constructing a scaffold of silk fibers, which they used to guide stem cells into place. After this is done, a nourishing medium is used to facilitate growth of the cells. The cells will then form into a solid structure, which could potentially be inserted into a patient. The silk would then biodegrade and leave the body.
The process it not yet ready for use on patients, but the team hopes to be able to produce a functional salivary gland in the near future. Meanwhile, if you are struggling with dry mouth, you can count on our Bellevue dentist to assure the continued health of your teeth and gums.