Grow your own new teeth

2011 July 13
by Asha Sood

Replacing missing teeth could see current tooth replacement treatments such as dental implants or false teeth and dentures being offered alongside a breakthrough technological option allowing you to grown your very own new set of teeth.

Scientists in Tokyo, Japan have used mouse stem cells to create artificially bioengineered teeth which both look and function in the same way as real teeth. The artificially engineered ‘tooth buds’ were grown in a lab before being placed in mice where they developed into full grown teeth. They were then transplanted into jawbone where they fused and integrated to function and look like real teeth. Although the research was carried out on mice and in the laboratory, it paves the way to future development of generating replacement teeth in humans.

Research is at an early stage and one of the obstacles to overcome is finding a suitable source of stem cells for use in the human mouth. Professor Takashi Tsuji who spearheaded the study, stressed the importance of finding the right ‘seed cells’ for reparative therapy. His team utilised stem cells from the molar teeth of mice which went on to produce a regular tooth unit comprising dental bone, enamel and nerve fibres.

Adult stem cells, also known as the body’s master cells, have the ability to be utilised in the growth of new cells. Because of their ability to regenerate and renew, stem cell research has also been harnessed in the research of a variety of diseases, including cancer and diabetes.

Although bioengineering of teeth may directly benefit patients in the future, for now, it’s important to maintain and look after your teeth following the usual guidelines: Restricting your intake of sugary drinks and food, brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste and visiting your dentist and hygienist on a regular basis.

Research details and content source : PLOS One, online July 12, 2011

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