Ground breaking advancements in cosmetic dentistry.
The next revolution in dental care is about to begin. New high-tech treatments may be able to repair cavities without fillings and even regrow entire teeth.
Scientists have long known that tooth regeneration occurs in alligators and sharks, but until now, most believed the process followed a schedule—like snakes shedding their skin or birds moulting.
A new research indicates that the process is actually an on-demand system—when a tooth is lost, a new tooth re-grows in its place. This is an exciting development because alligator tooth structure is very similar to human tooth structure.The process in alligators is so effective, the researchers found, that all of their 80 teeth are replaced an average of 50 times over their lifetime.
The researchers note that because of tooth structure similarity between humans and alligators, it might be possible one day to coax new teeth to grow to replace those that are lost. This is because other studies have shown that humans also have stem cell tissue beneath their teeth. It’s responsible for replacing baby teeth with adult teeth and in rare cases for a condition known as supernumerary teeth—where people grow extra teeth.
In humans, the stem cells are believed to shut off after doing their job just once. This could all change. The research shows the drugs can coax stem cells within the dental pulp — the soft material deep within teeth that’s filled with nerves and blood vessels — into re-growing enough bony tissue (dentin) to fill it.
Growing Back the Entire teeth
Growing a whole new tooth outside the body, artificially, is also set to become reality in the not-too-distant future.
A technique pioneered in the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory of Dr. Jeremy Mao, the Professor of Dental Medicine at Columbia University Medical Centre Edward V. Zegarellicould revolutionise the dentistry.
An animal study has shown that by homing stem cells to a scaffold made of natural materials and integrated in surrounding tissue, there is no need to use harvested stem cell lines, or create an environment outside of the body (e.g., a Petri dish) where the tooth is grown and then implanted once it has matured. The tooth instead can be grown in the socket where the tooth will integrate with surrounding tissue in ways that are impossible with hard metals or other materials.
3D Printed Teeth and Dentures
3D printing is an exciting trend in dentistry. Dental 3D printing has made creating crowns incredibly simple. When a patient’s natural tooth has to be extracted or filed, a dentist can scan its shape and size and print an exact copy from materials like titanium, porcelain and zirconium.No more playing with multiple impressions and trips to the lab. This technology is already approved in the European Union and is pending FDA approval in the United States.
Research keeps moving dentistry into fascinating new frontiers with solutions once considered impossible. Dental stem cells open doors to future procedures that will someday be commonplace.
In order to formally introduce these revolutionary treatments to modern dentistry, however, the researchers will need to perform clinical trials with human patients. Such work is at least several years away.
But you don’t have to wait for life-changing dentistry.
In the meantime, dental implants and bio-compatible restorative materials offer the closest alternative to growing new teeth. Titanium pieces placed into the jawbone mimic tooth roots that support life-like porcelain crowns.
And research has brought major benefits to implant technology as well. Specialized coatings and modified designs help produce outstanding integration success, while 3D imaging technology allows precise planning of every case.
Scientific American Article:STEM CELL FILLINGS