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Development of a Direct Pulp-capping Model for the Evaluation of Pulpal Wound Healing and Reparative Dentin Formation in Mice.

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Dental pulp is a vital organ of a tooth fully protected by enamel and dentin. When the pulp is exposed due to cariogenic or iatrogenic injuries, it is often capped with biocompatible materials in order to expedite pulpal wound healing. The ultimate goal is to regenerate reparative dentin, a physical barrier that functions as a "biological seal" and protects the underlying pulp tissue. Although this direct pulp-capping procedure has long been used in dentistry, the underlying molecular mechanism of pulpal wound healing and reparative dentin formation is still poorly understood. To induce reparative dentin, pulp capping has been performed experimentally in large animals, but less so in mice, presumably due to their small sizes and the ensuing technical difficulties. Here, we present a detailed, step-by-step method of performing a pulp-capping procedure in mice, including the preparation of a Class-I-like cavity, the placement of pulp-capping materials, and the restoration procedure using dental composite. Our pulp-capping mouse model will be instrumental in investigating the fundamental molecular mechanisms of pulpal wound healing in the context of reparative dentin in vivo by enabling the use of transgenic or knockout mice that are widely available in the research community.

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