Snake or shark tooth is replaced if it breaks or falls out. Is it plausible to grow human teeth by replicating the process? Researchers say yes.
At the moment, teeth are replaced using dental implants of titanium to replace the root and set the tooth securely in the jaw. However, dental implants can get a bit costly depending on how many dental implants are needed, and in certain cases, the crowns can be damaged by the normal use of your teeth. In other words, the best choice for tooth replacement would be a natural tooth. Research into stem cells has revealed that this ideal option is plausible. Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition showcased how underdeveloped teeth can be grown in a laboratory setting and then set into the jaw like a typical tooth implant. The research is being done by Paul Sharpe, Dickinson Professor of Craniofacial Biology at College London Dental Institute. Sharpe’s research examines both the source of animal tooth replacement as well as the process of human tooth production. New teeth require epithelial and mesenchymal stem cells. One cell must send a message to the other cell to begin the process. Sharpe has found that epithelial cells taken from an adult’s gum tissue during routine dental surgery will respond to embryonic mesenchymal cells. The goal now is to find the reverse: adult mesenchymal cells that will respond.
A possible source for these cells is the stem cells in bone marrow or teeth. Stem cells are a pertinent area of research because they can develop into different cell types, becoming a source of regeneration. The problem with this option is that adult bone marrow will only produce other types of tissue for 24 hours while in culture. Researchers need a solution to reawaken the properties of stem cells so they can produce tissue for a longer time period.
(It’s also plausible for embryonic cells to be used for growth but, for the purpose of tooth growth that could enter the market for clinical use, adult cells are the more logical and affordable choice.)
According to Professor Sharpe, this research could lead to teeth grown from stem cells being implanted into mice within 5 years. If the necessary cells can be created and combined successfully, it should be possible for teeth to become an optional clinical procedure.
Dr. Gurgen (George) Sahakyan is widely known and recognized as the leading dentist in Glendale, California. He is responsible for creating smiles for many of Glendale’s residents and patients all throughout Southern California. His practice, Smile Makeover of LA, handles almost all forms of dentistry. Whether you need general cleaning, a root canal, or dental implants, Smile Makeover of LA’s dentists is always ready to take on any dental needs.