Tooth loss affects people in Britain and elsewhere around the world. While modern dentistry offers a number of options for missing teeth, these still take time and can be costly.
Helping Treat Tooth Loss
A new experiment, however, suggests we may one day be able to re-attach teeth by using stem cells. People can lose their teeth in many ways but gum disease is a significant problem for many people.
There are estimates that as many as eighty percent of adults suffer from some degree of gum disease. This infection is a very serious one that can ultimately lead to tooth loss later on in life. Other people may suffer trauma and lose their teeth.
A New Way to Battle Tooth Loss
In this recent study, researchers took stem cells from a specific ligament in the molars of mice. They treated these stem cells in the laboratory and then used them on barren molars. Once these molars were inserted back into the empty sockets of the mice, they eventually anchored back into the space.
Healthy Tooth Attachment Using Stem Cells
It was at around two months that stem cells began to create new attachments from the tooth to the bone. The result was that the attachment was a solid one and the re-attachment was considered a success.
As researchers looked at the tissue, they could see that surrounding the tooth were fresh ligament fibers and a substance called cementum, which is another part of a normal tooth connection. When compared to tooth molars that were re-attached without these stem cells, the attachment was unsuccessful.
Growing Teeth Using Stem Cells
Previous studies have looked at ways to grow teeth using stem cells. In another study, researchers used special tooth-shaped scaffolds along with specific proteins and growth factors to draw in stem cells and develop the bone. Perhaps most incredible was the fact that this growth occurred in only nine weeks. It’s a new direction of stem cell studies that can offer another potential option for people who lose their teeth.
Even more unique is that it works by attracting stem cells already in the person’s body rather than requiring an injection of stem cells from a donor. The quick recovery time and natural use of the body’s own resources would make this a particularly attractive dental treatment one day.
A Novel Treatment for Tooth Loss
For the study that looked at re-attaching teeth using stem cells, it is the first time that such a treatment has successfully been performed. It is thought that it would be valuable for those people who have experienced trauma and lost a tooth. This might be an athlete or someone who is in a car accident. In particular, it may be used for the significant numbers of people who suffer from severe gum disease and experience tooth loss.
Dental Implants Continue as a Treatment of Choice
Until then, there are still dental implants and these are largely successful. But a new stem cell treatment that utilises the body’s own resources to quickly re-attach teeth would be a welcome addition to dental options for missing teeth.