At the heart of biological dentistry, there’s a kind of interesting paradox. On the one hand, it’s grounded in leading edge technology and techniques; on the other, in ancient, traditional healing methods. Lasers and herbs. Digital x-rays and acupuncture. Nano-composites and nutritional wisdom. Because of the way biological dentistry brings together and synthesizes these practices, you sometimes hear it called “integrative dentistry.”
One of the newest – and most promising – practices we’ve brought into our office is the use of platelet rich fibrin, or PRF, to support and promote healing from surgical procedures.
Fibrin is a kind of protein involved in blood clotting. Platelets are cell fragments that circulate in the blood and a natural source of growth factors. When platelet rich fibrin is placed on top of a surgical site – for instance, a cavitation that’s been cleaned out, with the alveolar bone properly debrided – it helps speed healing, stimulating bone and soft tissue growth. Our patients say it also lessens post-surgical pain.
Best of all, the PRF is derived from your own blood, so biocompatibility is guaranteed. No gelling agents are needed. No synthetic or animal-derived products are used. A top notch replacement for the “non-native” materials – bovine, coral or synthetic – used previously, it’s 100% natural-to-the-patient.
To make the PRF, we just draw a small amount of blood, like a lab would do for a blood test. We then put those tubes in a specific type of centrifuge and spin it for 12 minutes. In this way, the platelets form into membranes that contain a lot of leukocytes (white blood cells) – the part of blood most involved with healing – as well as blood vessel growth factors. Then some of the fibrin is shaped into plugs that fit into the surgical site, while other is shaped into membranes to cover the site.
Its ability to spur angiogenesis – capillary formation – makes PRF especially suited for cavitational surgery. Circulation problems are inherent at these sites of dead and decaying tissue. But by effectively increasing blood flow, PRF also helps with clearing toxins from the infected area, as well as helping the damaged bone and gums regenerate.
PRF has been used in medicine for a while now but is still fairly rare in dentistry here in the US. Dr. Glaros is pleased to be among those currently providing it.
Want to learn more? Here’s a glimpse of some of the PRF science, which gives a good overview of how it works and what it does:
- Platelet Rich Fibrin (PRF) for Extraction Site Preservation,” from the Journal of Implant & Advanced Clinical Dentistry – Note, some of the clinical photos at this link are not for the squeamish!
- “Platelet-Rich Fibrin: A Second Generation Platelet Concentrate and a New Friend of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons,” from the Annals of Maxillofacial Surgery
- “Blood Platelet Biomaterial Enhances Implant Healing,” from the British Dental Journal – a snapshot of the complete Journal of Oral Implantology article you’ll find here.