The end of sensitive teeth Doctors reverse painful receding gums with cow heart implant

Doctors have found a permanent solution for people suffering from nerve-jangling tooth sensitivity due to receding gums – a patch made from cow heart tissue.

More than half of all adults in the UK are thought to be affected by receding gums, also known as gingival recession, which is caused by aging, gum disease, teeth grinding and over-brushing.

Over time it exposes more of the tooth root, which is far more sensitive as it doesn't have a protective enamel coating.

Sensitive teeth: Regular dental appointments can flag up receding gums early

Sensitive teeth: Regular dental appointments can flag up receding gums early

Up till now dentists have advised patients to swap to a softer tooth brush and sensitive toothpaste and avoid acidic foods, but this only stops the problem from getting any worse. The gum does not regrow naturally.

In some cases dentists have put a filling in the gum line, but this requires drilling into a healthy tooth and further work if the filling dislodges.

However, in the past year dentists have started offering tissue grafts, sewing collagen either from donated human tissue or tissue removed from the roof of the patient's mouth into the gum line.

Once transplanted, the patient's own blood vessels penetrate the
collagen – a protein constituent of body tissue that provides
structure and elasticity – and, incredibly, the gums start to grow

Now a team of Germin and Swiss researchers have performed the same technique using cow heart tissue – which is far more readily available.

The researchers, led by Dr Shahram Ghanaati from the University of Frankfurt and the
dentist Dr Markus Schlee, said their novel method of using bovine collagen resulted in thicker gums around the tooth and complete coverage of exposed roots in over half of cases.

They treated 14 patients who had 62 tooth 'recessions' between them using cow collagen that had been treated to remove skin, cells and DNA along with any bacteria.

Their damaged teeth were cleaned before surgery and the collagen
implants held in place with loops of surgical thread around the affected tooth.
Two weeks later the sutures were removed.

None of the patients needed
antibiotics but weren't allowed to brush the treated teeth, resorting to mouth wash twice a day instead.

The patients were re-examined after six months to see how well they had

The team found the bovine collagen had acted as a scaffold for the body's own cells
to repair the damage. They said the results were comparable to those who had human tissue grafts.

Dr Schlee said: 'In all cases the healed-over
implant improved the look and severity of the recession, and, in over half of
all treatments, resulted in total coverage of the exposed root.

'We would not
have expected any of these patients to get better without surgery.'

The authors added although further research was needed, 'this
method might contribute to an increase of patient’s comfort and an enhanced aesthetical outcome.'

The study was published in the journal Head & Face Medicine.