Tooth loss is a common issue that most people face at some point in their lives. In fact, research shows that 27,27% of seniors over the age of 65 have no remaining teeth. Dentures have been a solution to this problem for a while now. However, they’re uncomfortable and cause significant slipping and pain if they aren’t properly fitted, which makes dental implants the most preferred choice.
On the other hand, sometimes they could not be effective as well, as the surrounding jaw bone changes with age, taking care of implants gets harder and it isn’t possible to remodel them when that happens. Furthermore, there’s a risk of infection, injury, and nerve damage, while the tooth may not fuse correctly to the metal implant. In addition, the entire process can take up to 18 months.
These two are the only tooth replacement options that are known to people today. Yet they still have lots of disadvantages. That’s why dentistry is another sphere with high hopes in stem cell research.
Of course, there’s controversy surrounding this new medical method, for its use and destruction of human embryos. However, not all research involves human tissue and it could actually change many people’s lives.
This potential new technique is 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. The revolutionary discovery is set to leave tooth loss in the past for good.
This group of scientists believes that they’ve found a way to have the body’s stem cells migrate to a three-dimensional scaffold made of natural material and placed in a patient’s mouth. Once it colonizes the scaffold a tooth can grow in the socket and then merge with the surrounding tissue. They claim that a tooth could be built, just like a structure, but with your body providing the bricks. This could result in a new anatomically correct tooth in just nine weeks.
In fact, this result was first published in the Journal of the American Dental Association back in 2010 and has become a top publication in its field. This is the exact explanation of the experiment:
“Study researchers made three-dimensional anatomically shaped human molar scaffolds and rat incisor scaffolds. 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.”
Scientists have been working to develop stem-cell dental implants that grow new teeth right into your mouth for quite some time now. However, the transfer from animals to humans still requires some significant advancements. It’s projected that people will have to wait for a few more years in order to profit from those developments.
Anyways, the progress made hints at options once believed to be impossible. Columbia University has already filed patent applications to the revolutionary technology and is seeking associates to aid in its commercialization. Dr. Mao is considering the best approach for applying his technique to cost-effective clinical therapies.
Technology and science constantly find new ways to deal with our problems. As for now, dental implants are still the best tooth replacement solution done by dentists. This cone-shaped titanium screw with a roughened or smooth surface and are placed in the jaw bone to support a crown that looks exactly like your natural teeth.
Their disadvantage is the rather long healing time. It widely varies from person to person but as we mentioned it could take 18 months for the implant to become one with your jaw bone. It also has to be done by an experienced professional, otherwise, there’s a possibility of infection which could be very dangerous to your overall health.
Dentistry might soon provide us with a brand new teeth replacement solution. Revolutionary stem-cell discoveries can provide specialists with the ability to grow new teeth right in the patient’s mouth.
Dental stem cells introduce to us some future procedures that will someday be commonplace, just like dentures and implants are today. In the meantime, you can still make use of the biocompatible restorative materials that offer great options for function and beauty.
Also never forget taking care of your good oral hygiene! As researchers find new ways to improve our lives you should stick to your routine so that you are ready for anything that the future holds.