Biologic Agents to Aid Healing
Platelets are the cell fragments in human blood that are responsible for initiating the formation of a blood clot when bleeding occurs. Because they are associated with the beginning of the healing process, they contain various molecules that promote healing and growth, among which are Platelet Derived Growth Factor, Transforming Growth Factor Beta, and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor. When platelets are concentrated into a small volume by spinning blood in a centrifuge, utilization of this concentrate in an area of injury or inflammation has been shown to accelerate and enhance the healing process. Examples of Platelet Concentrates used in our practice are Platelet Rich Plasma and Platelet Rich Fibrin, which are used in various treatment situations to encourage and enhance healing.
Botox is familiar to most people as the agent that is injected periodically into the muscles of facial expression to reduce the formation of skin wrinkles. Botox also has application in reducing unnecessary muscle contraction that is responsible for pain and inflammation. In patients who have difficulty with jaw clenching (bruxism) that causes pain and lack of normal jaw mobility, periodic use of Botox injections can be helpful in breaking the cycle of jaw muscle pain and loss of mobility.
Hyaluronic Acid is a substance elaborated by the body to lubricate its moving joints. This material is FDA approved for use in the knee joint to reduce pain and inflammation. Several studies, and our clinical experience have found that Hyaluronic Acid is also helpful in treating loss of normal function in the Temporo-mandibular Joint (TMJ or jaw joint). Use of Hyaluronic Acid in the jaw joint is currently an off-label (not FDA approved) use, so insurance coverage for its use is not predictable.
Corticosteroids are potent anti-inflammatory medications that when injected or taken orally can markedly reduce pain and inflammation in the affected body part. These are NOT to be confused with anabolic steroids, which are sometimes used by athletes to enhance performance.
Corticosteroids do not reverse the disease state; they only reduce the inflammation and pain associated with the disease state. They should be used sparingly since too frequent use can result in unwanted side effects. We have found them to be most effective when coupled with rest.
Stem Cells are the early developmental ancestor of several different types of cells that make up the human body. Current research suggests that Stem Cells have the potential for healing certain disease states. While the research is promising, Stem Cell use to help heal diseases treated by oral and maxillofacial surgeons has not yet been scientifically proven.