Tooth loss is a significant health issue currently affecting millions of people worldwide and one of the biggest worries we have when it comes to our oral health is the possibility of losing our teeth, either naturally or because of an accident. But what if we could grow them back?
Two new pieces of pioneering research have given hope that this could one day be a reality. Researchers in the US recently reported their successful attempts to create tooth buds which can grow and look like natural teeth. Artificial dental implants, the current gold standard tooth replacement therapy, do not exhibit many properties of natural teeth and can be associated with complications leading to implant failure. The scientists proposed bioengineered tooth buds as a superior alternative tooth replacement therapy which were comprised of postnatal dental cells encapsulated within a hydrogel material that were implanted subcutaneously into immunocompromised rats. This is the first report describing the use of postnatal dental cells to create bioengineered tooth buds that exhibit evidence of these features of natural tooth development.
This is the first report describing the use of postnatal dental cells to create bioengineered tooth buds that exhibit evidence of these features of natural tooth development.
The second shows how tooth stem cells can be used to partially repair those which have been damaged.
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation believes that, while this may be a long way from becoming a reality, the prospect of re-growing our own teeth is highly exciting. Dr Carter says: “Millions of people across the world lose teeth for many different reasons. Tooth loss can happen because of an unfortunate accident, poor oral health or another illness. But no matter how we lose them, missing teeth can mean problems in our everyday life. Missing teeth can affect how we eat, smile and speak. It can even have an impact on our confidence and mental wellbeing.
“Our current options to replace missing teeth include bridges, dentures and implants. These are great ways to replace lost teeth and give us back the confidence we need to smile. Given the choice however, we would always choose to have our own natural teeth.”
Scientific breakthroughs in similar fields have already led to developments in many other areas of healthcare, such as prosthetics and tissue regeneration. These have helped millions of people gain a better quality of life and this cutting-edge research has the potential to do the same in the future.
“As exciting as the prospect may be, the ability to grow our own teeth remains quite a long way off. It may take decades for it to reach a point when it becomes routine within dentistry,” concluded Dr Carter.