How’s this for an idea? After losing a tooth as an adult, instead of getting a bridge or having an artificial tooth implanted, you go to the dentist and they grow a whole new tooth for you. Sound too good to be true? Well right now it is; but in the next 10-15, years this could be the reality!
A research group at King’s College London took cells from human gum tissue and mixed them with a kind of cell called mesenchyme cells, which were taken from mice. These mesenchyme cells instruct other cells as to what they should become; and in this case, the gum cells were instructed to become teeth. When transplanted into mice, the cells grew into a human/mouse hybrid tooth with viable roots — and they functioned completely normally.
photo by McSkeletor
In order to apply this exciting technology to humans, it would first be necessary to find a human source of mesenchyme cells. Most of the ones we have are found in wisdom teeth; but even if you haven’t had your wisdom teeth removed, it’s still difficult getting enough of them to create a new tooth. Also, scientists have only used embryonic mesenchyme cells to create new teeth; attempts to use adult mesenchyme cells have been unsuccessful. Because of the ethical issues surrounding the use of embryonic cells, they’ll need to find a way to use the adult cells before this technique can be widely used in humans.
Another barrier to it becoming a common treatment is the cost. Working with cells in this way is very expensive and thus not something realistically available to patients. It’s also impractical, since you need a very particular lab environment to grow the cells before they can be implanted, and they’re only found at major universities.
photo by jcolman
So while this kind of treatment may not be available in the near future, using our own cells to grow new teeth is definitely an exciting possibility!
What do you think? Would you choose to have a new tooth regrown if you could? For more information on Las Vegas teeth whitening or any other dentistry needs, contact BDG at 702.388.8888 today.