Research for using stem cells to regrow new teeth has been around for at least 10 years. So far, teeth have been regenerated in mice and monkeys. Clinical trials are underway. Teeth present a unique challenge for researchers because the stem cells must be stimulated to grow the right balance of hard tissue, dentin and enamel, while producing the correct size and shape. Once developed, this could be a breakthrough innovation with a potential impact on the clinical dentistry industry. The statistics of tooth loss are staggering – 7 out of 10 adults aged 35 years to 44 years have lost at least one tooth and a quarter of those aged 65 or older have lost all their permanent teeth (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Regeneration of teeth instead of replacement could be a significant advancement in the field of dentistry.
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Dr. Peter Murray and his colleagues from the College of Dental Medicine at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) had developed technique to control adult stem cell growth while generating dental tissue and replacing the “real” tooth in 2012. Tooth banks are developed like other organ banks where the investments involved is huge. Investors are very skeptical about the outcomes and market for stem cell research based on the current gradual growth and stills the clinical trials under process awaiting the desired outcomes.
Stem Cell Tooth Regeneration Technique to Dominate the Dentistry Market
The tooth regeneration techniques include using stem cells or laser. In 2014, scientists at the Harvard University came up with a novel idea of using lasers to regenerate teeth. The low-power laser converted dental stem cells into dentin in the study on mice and rats. The researcher drilled holes in the molars of the rodents, zapped the tooth pulp with the laser and put on temporary caps, until the dentin was finally formed over a period of 12 weeks.
A 2009 nationwide survey by NSU revealed that 96% of the dentists polled expected stem cell regeneration to dominate the future of dentistry. In endodontics, for several decades, dentine regeneration has been induced by application of a calcium hydroxide preparation over inflamed pulp tissue in carious teeth. Guided tissue regeneration (GTR) was developed recently as a novel periodontal therapy, allowing regeneration of periodontal tissue without the use of cells or growth factors through the creation of space.
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Stem cells derived from teeth that are known to date are mainly of five types: dental pulp stem cells (DPSC), stem cells from exfoliated deciduous teeth (SHED), periodontal ligament stem cells (PDLSC), stem cells from apical papilla (SCAP), and dental follicle precursor cells (DFPC). It was also discovered that a new tooth can be regenerated from an extracted tooth, but there still remain many unsolved issues before its clinical application. However, it may take more years to commercialize this technology and let the consumers feel the benefits of it. Regeneration of teeth would mean end of fillings and root canal procedures. Increasing demand for cosmetic dentistry, awareness about oral hygiene, and increasing disposable income will drive the demand for this technology in future.
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