A new study has suggested that local anesthetic may affect the development of children’s teeth.
The study comes at a time when more children than ever before are subjected to dental surgery – and local anaesthetic – because of tooth decay or the other orthodontic conditions.
Using pig teeth and human young permanent tooth pulp cells, the research led by Bing Hu at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry and involving other researchers from China and Switzerland has identified that local anaesthetics 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 anaesthetic could affect tooth cell growth and potentially impact upon tooth development.
According to the research team, dental treatment involves more frequent use of local anaesthetic than any other clinical area. Although the maximum dosage of various local anaesthetics is established, their side effects on dental tissue have until now not been fully investigated.
The study found that the longer duration of exposure to high concentrations of local anaesthetic 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 they accept that we need to carry out further clinical studies and they do not wish for the findings to alarm parents unnecessarily, but they do expect, in time, to improve clinical guidelines through the research to minimise the dosage of local anaesthetic drugs.
He added that the 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 study appears in Cell Death Discovery.