One of the aims in holistic dentistry is to prevent exposure to toxins. So we steer clear of things such as mercury amalgam and fluoride. At the same time, we want to support the body’s natural healing abilities. So we make tools such as ozone and PRF a regular part of the care we provide.
Now, you may already know a bit about ozone – and if you don’t, do take a moment to check out some of our posts about it – but PRF might not be so familiar.
PRF stands for platelet rich fibrin. Platelets and fibrin are both involved in blood clotting. Fibrin is a kind of protein, while platelets are cell fragments in the blood that are especially rich in growth factors.
And it’s made using a small sample of your own blood. Here’s how it’s done:
Because it’s made from nothing but your own blood – no synthetic or animal-derived materials involved – it’s 100% biocompatible. It’s cells are your own cells.
One of the main uses of PRF is to support wound healing, such as after we extract a tooth. We simply place a bit of it at the surgical site, where it can stimulate the regeneration of both soft and hard tissues. It also encourages capillary formation, increasing blood flow to the surgical site.
Overall, this typically means faster, better healing and less pain following dental surgery.
Research has shown that using PRF after an extraction drastically lowers the chances of your developing dry socket – a painful condition in which a blood clot fails to form at the extraction site or dislodges from the site. (The pain comes from nerves and bone remaining partly exposed.) Infection and other complications can result.
One study in the International Journal of Dentistry found that when PRF was used, only 1% of patients developed dry socket. Without PRF, the rate was nearly 10%. Those patients who did develop dry socket needed an additional 6.5 hours of treatment to address the problem.
This retrospective review demonstrated that preventative treatment of localized osteitis can be accomplished using a low cost, autogenous, soluble, biologic material, PRF, that PRF enhanced third-molar socket healing/clot retention and greatly decreased the clinical time required for postoperative management of [dry socket].
A more recent study out of Egypt likewise found that, in cases of impacted third molar (wisdom tooth) extraction, PRF reduced dry socket and post-op pain – and thus the use of pain medication, as well.
PRF has also proved effective for the treatment of dry socket itself. One Indian study found that treating the dry socket with PRF resulted in good wound healing with significantly less pain beginning on the first day and reduced need for pain medication. Similar findings were documented in a 2017 paper in the European Journal of Dentistry.
The findings of a study just published in the Journal of Oral Biology and Craniofacial Research were almost identical to those in the earlier research:
There was significant reduction in pain associated with AO [alveolar osteitis, the clinical term for dry socket] at the 3rd and 7th postoperative day along with better wound healing by the end of 2nd week.
And these are just some of the ways PRF can be used to support our patients’ healing and ongoing oral health. Next week, we’ll look at some even more intriguing uses…