Now-a-days more children than ever before are subjected to dental surgery, and local anesthetic, because of tooth decay or the other orthodontic conditions. A new study led by Bing Hu at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry and other researchers from China and Switzerland has revealed that local anesthetics may affect the development of children's teeth.
For the study, researchers using pig teeth and human young permanent tooth pulp cells. They identified that local anesthetics commonly used in clinics can affect the proliferation of tooth cells. It is the first time that evidence has been found to suggest that local anesthetic could affect tooth cell growth and potentially impact the development of teeth.
The research team observed that dental treatment involves more frequent use of local anesthetic than any other clinical area. They found that although the maximum dosage of various local anesthetics is established, their side effects on dental tissue have until now not been fully investigated. The researchers found that the longer duration of exposure to high concentrations of local anesthetic was most harmful because it interferes with the function of mitochondria, the 'batteries' of the cell, and induce a cell death mechanism named 'autophagy'.
Hu said, "We accept that we need to carry out further clinical studies and we do not wish for the findings to alarm parents unnecessarily, but we do expect, in time, to improve clinical guidelines through the research to minimize the dosage of local anesthetic drugs. The findings emphasize 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 study is published in Cell Death Discovery.