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Local anaesthetic could affect development of children's teeth

Article By: Ellie Spanswick, News Editor

The use of local anaesthetics has been linked with tooth cell growth in a study led by Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry.

Published in new medical journal, Cell Death Discovery, by the Nature Publishing Group, the study is one of the first of its kind to look at the links between child tooth growth and local anaesthetic use.

Researchers used pig teeth and human young permanent tooth pulp cells to identify local anaesthetics used in dental procedures in the UK, China and Switzerland that commonly affected the proliferation of tooth cells.

Working alongside researchers from China and Switzerland, associate professor in oral and dental health research at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, Dr. Bing Hu said: “Our study has shown for the first time the evidence that local anaesthetic may affect the development of children’s teeth in cellular and molecular levels. We accept that we need to carry out further clinical studies and we do not wish for our findings to alarm parents unnecessarily, but we do expect, in time, to improve clinical guidelines through our research to minimise the dosage of local anaesthetic drugs.”

The study was published to coincide with information that suggests a growing number of children are the subject of serious dental surgeries and the use of local anaesthetic more than before, as a result of dental decay or other orthodontic conditions.

The research is first to suggest a link between local anaesthetic having a detrimental effect on tooth cell growth.

Dr Hu continued: “Our findings emphasise the need for parents to help their children to avoid the need for dental surgery, such as tooth extractions, in the first place by paying attention to diet and good oral hygiene, and regular visits to the dentist.”

The team of researchers revealed that dental treatment involves the frequent use of local anaesthetic more than other clinical field and despite a maximum dosage being established, research into potential side effects on dental tissue have not previously been thoroughly investigated.

During the course of the study, researchers found that longer periods of exposure to high levels of local anaesthetic was the most harmful as it affected the functioning ability of mitochondria, known as the ‘batteries’ of the cell, and had the potential to induce a cell death mechanism called ‘autophagy’.

Despite the research revealing the potential harmful effect of local anaesthetic on child tooth development, further studies are required to establish enough data to change clinical guidelines and parents should not be alarmed or withdraw their children for treatment if it is required.

Plymouth University have filed a GB patent application for the technology used in the study.


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