A study published in Cell Death Discovery suggests for the first time that the use of local anaesthetic may affect tooth cell growth and 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 orthodontic conditions.
The research found 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.
The study found that 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 induces a cell death mechanism named “autophagy”.
The research team is keen to emphasise 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.