The Role of Scaffolds in Dental Implant Procedures
If you want a dental implant but you don’t have enough bone to support that implant, you may have to get a bone graft to restore the jawbone. Although the bone is technically capable of regrowing bone, it often doesn’t because the conditions don’t seem right. A scaffold helps set up the proper conditions for your natural bones to grow, then gets out of the way once your bone grows in.
In the past, this was usually done by taking bone from elsewhere in your body, which required a second surgical site and additional healing. To avoid this, processed bone material, typically from animals like sheep, was used, but the processing takes away some of the things that make your bone desirable, including the presence of living bone cells.
Artificial scaffolds are a third way that can be used. Although they don’t have living cells, they can be designed in such a way that they facilitate the production of bone, and really work about as well as the use of your own bone, but with one significant drawback: they’re expensive to make.
And that’s where beer comes in.
Beer Waste to Bone Graft
Researchers from Spain, Belgium, and Britain worked together to turn the spent grain from brewing into a viable bone scaffold. The beer waste has many benefits. First, it contains all the nutrients necessary for bone growth, including phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and silica. It’s organic, nontoxic, and not so durable that the body can’t easily break it down as necessary once the bones themselves grow in. And, it’s very cheap. Often, it’s given to farms as animal feed or sold at a cost below that of other foodstuffs.
The new material has the right porosity to encourage the growth of bone material through the bone graft. This encourages the growth of blood vessels as well as bone.
Now we can look forward to the days when bone grafts are not just inexpensive, but derive from a byproduct of one of our favorite potent potables.