My name is John and both I and my brother James agrees that amongst our various childhood experiences, losing teeth are one part that brings about lots of fun and teasing. However, breaking incisors or losing molar as an adult needs an artificial solution in the form of implants or dentures. A researcher at Tufts School of Dental Medicine is trying hard to use dental stem cells in growing a new teeth and jawbone which have advantages over our previous techniques of tooth replacement, and according to the researcher this new Dental Stem Cells could even be used to reconstruct a jaw after a severe disease or injury.
An orthodontics professor and director of the division of craniofacial and molecular genetics “Pam Yelick”, and her team are coming up with a way to grow a new healthy bone and teeth from this cells. Dental Stem Cells are a type of “universal cell” that is capable of morphing into several types of oral tissue. These stem cells are collected from a healthy adult tooth pulp, and then Yelick’s team puts them separately in the lab and gradually nurture them into forming new tooth buds, which is what will eventually grow into a new mature tooth.
I and my brother James agrees that if those cells are successful, they will be the new revolutionary way of treating damaged or missing teeth. Tooth buds are incredibly complex, and they only form in situations that mimic an embryonic jaw, where bone, soft palate, tooth and gums are starting to take shape.
The new generation stem cells is a better solution than the well-known dentures or fixed titanium implants, which most patients complain it’s unbearable
We know an implant can’t move, and the impact of repeated chewing is directly transferred to the jawbone and surrounding teeth which cause a gradual loss of bone. But the renowned Professor Yelick who holds faculty appointments at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences has explained that if a living vascularized tooth is implanted in the jaw, it would be a much better option.
Just as a growing human embryo must receive the right mixture of growth hormones and nutrients at the precise times, dental stem cells must also do the same. In a petri dish, however, it’s nearly impossible to achieve that. Instead of the cells growing into a tooth bud tissue, they’re rather placed on a “scaffold,” which is a biological environment that impersonates the dimensional structure of tooth buds as they form in an embryo.
For cells to grow efficiently, the scaffold must have the same shape and elasticity of a real embryonic tissue.
Yelick and her colleague are still in the experimental phase to find the best configuration in designing the right scaffold, indulging in testing several materials from silk to polyester, which is capable of forming complex structures, but degrades in the body so easily.
So far their work looks promising, because Yelick and her colleague have succeeded in using these scaffolds to develop tooth buds, and then implant them in pig jaws which later develop into early-stage adult teeth within five months. It looks promising and encouraging, but she made it known that it will take several years of hard work before it’s possible for us to grow our replacement teeth.