Dental implants look, feel and perform like healthy natural teeth, and they are currently the longest-lasting and most aesthetically pleasing solution for missing teeth. But research into stem cells derived from urine may hold the key to one day allowing people to regrow natural teeth.
From Stem Cells to ‘Teeth’
Last year, Chinese scientists at the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health published the findings of a study that used stem cells from human urine to create tooth-like structures.
Cells that would otherwise be passed from the body were collected in a laboratory then coaxed into what are known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs); iPSCs are the master cells from which new tissue can be grown. Scientists were then able to transform the urine-based iPSCs into tooth-like structures that contained the types of cells that respectively form teeth enamel, dentin and pulp.
Researchers hope the technique may eventually be used to generate new teeth for those who have lost teeth due to dental trauma or oral health problems. If not treated, missing teeth can lead to further dental health concerns such as premature tooth wear, tooth decay, gum disease and bone loss.
Growing New Teeth?
While no previous research had been able to coax solid organs or tissue from iPSCs, this particular study was not without its limitations. The resulting teeth-like structures featured enamel, pulp and dentin, but not the nerves and blood vessels of natural teeth.
The process for generating the “teeth” also utilized cells from mice and had a relatively low success rate of about 30 percent. The resulting teeth-like organs were also not as durable as natural teeth or as other current treatments for replacing missing teeth, such as dental implants and dental bridges with crowns. Although the process used by researchers holds promise, years of further research will be necessary before human applications could be developed.
If you suffer from missing teeth, a knowledgeable cosmetic dentist can discuss the treatment options available and help you determine the best choice for your individual needs. Dental implants and other restorative dental treatments can enhance your bite function and provide you with a beautiful, natural-looking smile.
Colorado Springs dentist Dr Andrew Hall is dedicated to helping patients achieve vibrant, healthy smiles. Please contact The Studio for Exceptional Dentistry online or call our office at 709-602-2614 to learn more about our services or schedule your appointment.