Research shows possibility of growing new teeth

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

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Natural teeth will always be preferable to implants and dentures, but tooth loss is often unavoidable. According to a new study, in the future it may be possible to entirely regrow new teeth using stem cells.

The research from Tufts University, details how healthy new teeth and bones can be grown using dental stem cells, a type of cell that can transform into different types of oral tissue. The process of regrowing the new teeth is far from simple however.

The stem cells are first extracted from healthy adult tooth pulp. They must then be coaxed into becoming tooth buds. This can only occur in a very specific environment. To achieve this, the stem cells must be placed on a ‘scaffold’, which is a biological environment similar to the structure of tooth buds as they form in an embryo.

At the moment, designing the correct scaffold is the most difficult aspect of the process. The researchers are still experimenting with different materials to find the scaffold which best resembles embryonic tissue, the only place where tooth buds can form.

To test the process, the team implanted tooth buds into pig jaws. The buds developed into early-stage adult teeth over the course of five months. This was a promising result, though the researchers note that we are a long way from being able to grow our own replacement teeth. This study appeared in Tufts Dental Medicine magazine.