Regenerative Endodontics: Regeneration or Repair?

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Recent advances in biotechnology and translational research have made it possible to provide treatment modalities that protect the vital pulp, allow manipulation of reactionary and reparative dentinogenesis, and, more recently, permit revascularization of an infected root canal space. These approaches are referred to as regenerative procedures. The method currently used to determine the origin of the tissue secreted during the repair/regeneration process is largely based on the identification of cellular markers (usually proteins) left by cells that were responsible for this tissue production. The presence of these proteins in conjunction with other indicators of cellular behavior (especially biomineralization) and analysis of the structure of the newly generated tissue allow conclusions to be made of how it was formed. Thus far, it has not been possible to truly establish the biological mechanism controlling tertiary dentinogenesis. This article considers current therapeutic techniques to treat the dentin-pulp complex and contextualize them in terms of reparative and regenerative processes. Although it may be considered a semantic argument rather than a biological one, the definitions of regeneration and repair are explored to clarify our position in this era of regenerative endodontics.

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