Use of local anaesthetic in dental surgery may affect tooth cell growth and the development of children’s teeth, new research suggests.
“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,” said lead researcher Bing Hu, associate professor in oral and dental health research at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry in Plymouth.
Using pig teeth and human young permanent tooth pulp cells, the research identified that local anaesthetics commonly used in clinics can affect the proliferation of tooth cells.
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 more harmful because it interferes with the function of mitochondria, the ‘batteries’ of the cell, and induce a cell death mechanism named “autophagy”.
The research team, however, emphasised that further clinical studies are required before there is enough data to change clinical guidelines, and that parents should not be alarmed or withdraw their children from treatment if they need it.
“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,” Bing pointed out.
The study was published in the journal Cell Death Discovery.