You may have heard that synthetic materials are often used for gum and bone grafts, especially if you have had them. These manufactured materials can be very helpful, but are not the same as living tissue and bone. Fortunately, there have been some scientific breakthroughs that show stem cell tissue regeneration can help heal damaged teeth.
Stem cells are cells that develop into a specific type of cell or tissue that helps the body heal naturally. Tooth-derived stem cells come from dental pulp, periodontal ligaments and other tooth structures. These dental stem cells can be used to grow (regeneration) new pulp tissue and periodontal ligaments that have been destroyed by disease.
Researchers believe that dental stem cells may someday be able to regenerate teeth by literally re-growing a tooth in an empty tooth socket. The great thing about dental stem cells is that they can easily be taken from one’s own teeth that are lost naturally or by extraction. This is much easier than traditional stem cell harvesting through the bone morrow.
A study published in Nature Communications, “Transit amplifying cells coordinate mouse incisor mesenchymal stem cell activation,” reports that an international team of researchers have discovered how a molecular gene, Dlk1, can activate mesenchymal stem cells to grow dentin, the hard tissue of a tooth.
Researchers believe the Dlk1 gene and mesenchymal stem cells could aid in tooth repair, tooth decay and tooth-related injury treatments.
Bing Hu, DDS, MD, PhD, of the University of Plymouth Peninsula Dental School, who led the study, explained the importance of stem cell tissue regeneration.
“Stem cells are so important as, in the future, they could be used by laboratories to regenerate tissues that have been damaged or lost due to disease, so it’s vital to understand how they work.”
“By uncovering both the new stem cells that make the main body of a tooth and establishing their vital use of Dlk1 in regenerating the tissue, we have taken major steps in understanding stem cell regeneration.”
“The work has taken place in lab models at this stage, and further work needs to be done before we can bring them in to human use. But it’s a really big breakthrough in regenerative medicine that could have huge implications for patients in future.”
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