Those who lose their adult-teeth due to injury or tooth decay might not have to rely only on dentures and false implants anymore. Science looks toward a new kind of dental work through stem cell research. Scientists are trying to learn how to essentially grow a new oral units to replace old ones, which could revolutionize the entire world of dental work after the anticipated five years, when scientists think this method will be ready.
The Times Online reports that Tokyo University has been experimenting with mice by removing their back molars and planting in its place a tooth “seed.” This tiny package contains all the information and cells needed to form a tooth. When planted in the gaps left in the mice’s jaws from the molar extractions, the “seeds” grew fully formed teeth that were just as hard as natural teeth. These teeth also had nerve endings to respond to pain, the article continued, which is a great development for stem cell research developers.
This miniature stem cell research has been achieved by using the stem cells from a pig's tooth and a human baby tooth, the Sidney Morning Herald announced. These are both plentiful and easily accessible, making studies more accessible. The new teeth grew in the mice in only a few weeks, but scientists estimate it would take a few months for one to grow in a human mouth.
Stem cell “seeds” can even be tested to see what kind of tooth they will develop into, so that it is placed in the right spot in the person’s mouth.
Scientists are still working on how to completely artificially recreate the living root that connects the oral unit with the bone. Also, according to Telegraph.co.uk, scientists explore the options for growing teeth in labs before implanting them versus implanting the “seed” and letting it grow inside the person’s mouth.
This method will initially be used with patients for whom conventional implants are unsuccessful, the Telegraph said, but if this particular procedure becomes common, people might even start growing their own new teeth not out of necessity but just to replace imperfect ones.
Issues of tooth-decay could eventually drift into relative unimportance with the “backup plan” option of simply growing your own teeth to replace bad ones through this stem cell research. The effects of accidents like car wrecks that require dental work could be far less devastating.
Scientists hope to eventually be able to apply this stem cell research to growing other types of cells for other organs in the body.