Think about a replacement for lost teeth. Denture? Implants? These two solutions resolve the issue of lost teeth, but each one has an extended recovery time and high costs. Both procedures also have the potential to create new dental health issues for the wearers.
Due to the discomfort, uncertainty and other restrictions that accompany ancient and modern tooth replacements, dentists and bio-engineers have constantly been on the quest to invent better options. Newer options that are more reliable, biocompatible, and have the capability to evolve and adjust in response to the surrounding tissue like real teeth. The need for these qualities contributed to the strengthening of dentists’ faith in stem cells, and rightly so.
Today a group of scientists believe that they can grow a brand new tooth using stem cells in just two months. The new technique was pioneered in the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory of Dr Jeremy Mao, Edward V. Zegarelli Professor of Dental Medicine, and a professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia University, and claims to make tooth loss a thing of the past.
The team experimented on rats; a three-dimensional scaffold made of natural material was placed in the empty alveolar socket, which was then colonized by the body’s stem cell. The arrangement encouraged the growth of a new tooth and its merging with the surrounding tissue.
This research was published in Journal of Dental Research (JADA), a top publication in the field of dentistry in 2010. The experiment is explained as follows:
“In each of 22 rats, they implanted an incisor scaffold orthotopically in mandibular incisor extraction pockets and a human molar scaffold ectopically in the dorsum.”
“They then infused the scaffolds’ microchannels with two growth factors. They also implanted growth-factor–free control scaffolds.”
“After nine weeks, they found that periodontal ligament–like fibrous tissue and new bone regenerated where the rat incisor scaffolds interfaced with native alveolar bone. The human molar scaffolds showed integration and tissue ingrowth. Researchers also found that the growth factors recruited significantly more endogenous cells and led to greater angiogenesis than did the growth-factor–free control scaffolds.”
“The potency of cell homing is substantiated not only by cell recruitment into scaffold microchannels, but also by regeneration of a putative periodontal ligaments newly formed alveolar bone.”