Stem Cells and the Promise of Regrowing Teeth

TeethWhen people get a tooth (or several teeth) knocked out, there are only two options. They can either carry on with missing teeth or have the lost ones replaced. For this, visiting a dentist at practices such as The Priory Dental Practice is a good option. Dental implants capture the look and feel (not to mention function) of real teeth, all while being artificial.

Researchers, however, are working to try enabling teeth regeneration in humans. This is already present in nature (sharks regenerate teeth all the time), but not in humans. Recent trials are showing great promise, most of which are relying on the use of stem cells.

Stem Cells and (Teeth) Regeneration

A team led by experts from Harvard University reveal the possibility of re-growing teeth by using lasers to stimulate stem cells. Using rats and a low-powered laser, the researchers are able to stimulate stem cells in rodents and promote teeth regeneration. Their results are published in the Science Translational Medicine journal, prompting much speculation.

Stem cells seem to be used primarily for tissue regeneration, and for good reason. Stem cells serve as origin cells and can turn into any of 220 different cells in the body. Experts consider stem cells as a biological organism’s building blocks. This is because the cells can divide for longer than normal and are unspecialised (meaning they’re not classified as any type of cell in the body yet). The perfect example of stem cells at work involves the development of an embryo. Over time, the stem cells in the embryo’s body will turn into every cell that will comprise its body well into adulthood.

Several diseases can be treated by stem cell procedures today. Bone marrow transplants are good examples. In these types of transplants, stem cells are used to replace damaged cells by certain medical processes (i.e. chemotherapy) or disease. Presently, scientists grow stem cells in a laboratory, then manually alter them to specialise into specific cell types. In dental applications, stem cells present a new frontier if the science further improves in the foreseeable future. After all, they can turn into any type of cell in the body, including those that comprise teeth.