Emerging medical technology seeks to replace dental implants with human teeth generated from stem cells. Research is being conducted in all parts of the globe, aimed at replacing modern dental implants. The titanium implants utilized today are the most effective means of replacing missing teeth. They do not require the involvement of natural, healthy teeth. Dental implants are designed to last a lifetime and are likely to do so if cared for properly.
At Columbia University, studies are being performed to gage the possibility of growing a stem cell tooth inside a human. The stems would be placed in the socket of the missing tooth and would use the existing structure to generate a tooth. Initial findings indicate that the entire could be generated in as little as nine weeks. This research is still very early and the theory has not been tested on humans but the prospect is exciting.
Research conducted by the University of California explores the possibility of growing an entire tooth in a laboratory. Currently, only a fully grown tooth can be implanted in the patient but, the researchers are exploring the possibility of implanting a “tooth bud” in the mouth of the patient where it would generate into a full tooth. These researchers are also delving into the possibility of reconstructing decaying teeth using stem cells, eliminating the need for traditional dental fillings. If successful, this type of restoration would change the face of dentistry.
A team of researchers at Guy’s Hospital in the United Kingdom has successfully grown a partial human tooth by starting a stem cell culture in a laboratory mouse. The tooth grew roots and also contained the necessary connective tissues and jaw bone material. This research group has also grown a human tooth from bone marrow cells.
The possibilities associated with stem cell research are endless. While replacing a missing tooth with a human tooth grown from stem cells is an exciting prospect, the science remains largely unverifiable and is not yet ready for commercial introduction. Modern dental implants made of titanium remain the best choice for replacing missing teeth.