Replacing missing teeth with new bio engineered teeth, grown from stem cells generated from a person’s own gum cells, is a future method that could be superior to the currently used implant technology.
New research, published in the Journal of Dental Research and led by Professor Paul Sharpe, an expert in cranio facial development and stem cell biology at King’s College London’s Dental Institute, describes an important preliminary step towards the development of this method by sourcing the required cells from a patient’s own gum.
Research towards producing bio engineered teeth, also called bioteeth, aims to grow new and natural teeth by employing stem cell technology which generates immature teeth (teeth primordia) that mimic those in the embryo. These can be transplanted as small cell pellets into the adult jaw to develop into functional teeth, given the right circumstances, programming and assembly — all of that difficult to master and not even tested yet — the researchers say.
Remarkably, despite the very different environments, embryonic teeth primordia were found to develop normally in the adult mouth. Embryonic tooth primordia cells can readily form immature teeth following dissociation into single cell populations and subsequent recombination, but until now the available sources of these cells were impractical to use in a general therapy.
“What is required is the identification of adult sources of human epithelial and mesenchymal[stem] cells that can be obtained in sufficient numbers to make biotooth formation a viable alternative to dental implants,” said Sharpe.