Earlier it was the growth of organs in the lab, but now it the stem cell research is also helping the dentists by growing new teeth in the laboratory, which can be made according to our need i mean the dimensions and the size of the teeth can be made for our needs.
Researchers at the Forsyth Institute in Massachusetts have cultivated mature tooth crowns from pigs and they say it could revolutionise dentistry.
Researcher Doctor Pamela Yelick has been speaking to Tanya Nolan.
PAMELA YELICK: What we did is we used tried and true tissue engineering techniques that had been used successfully to generate other organs and we employed those techniques to generate teeth and that had been, was the first time such an effort had been achieved.
TANYA NOLAN: I understand one of the important breakthroughs in your research is discovering the existence of dental stem cells in pig molar tissue.
Can you explain the relevance of that?
PAMELA YELICK: The fact that the cells that we used to grow these tooth structures produced both dentin and enamel suggests that the two stem cell types that are required to form those two tissues were present in the cells that we started with.
And so that suggests that within this population of cells, these stem cells are present and we are currently investigating ways to enrich and characterise better these dental stem cells.
TANYA NOLAN: So is it just a matter of time before you are able to bio-engineer human teeth in the lab?
PAMELA YELICK: We very much hope so. I mean, this is a very beginning step towards the process of bio-engineering human teeth, but ultimately what we’re hoping is that we will be able to characterise non-human mammalian dental stem cells, use what we learn from these other systems to identify human dental stem cells, where we can find them and how we can least invasively obtain them, propagate them and use them to generate teeth in the jaw to replace a human lost or missing tooth.
TANYA NOLAN: So in what time frame do you envisage the use of tissue engineering to help in the repair of teeth or even the replacement of teeth?
PAMELA YELICK: Well we’re hoping that along the way we will be making findings that could be used to repair dentin or perhaps enamel in developing teeth.
We’re hoping within five years we will know how to generate whole tooth replacements and that within another ten or fifteen years we will actually be able to clinically use these teeth, therapeutically.
TANYA NOLAND: It sounds like that would revolutionise dentistry as we know it.
PAMELA YELICK: It would be fantastic. We’re very excited about the possibility and we are working very hard to make it work.
There are a lot of really good applications for children, for example, who are born without teeth or even jaws as well as for people who, somehow, are predispositioned to having poor oral health.
I think this research will be really helpful for the future dentists like myself as it is going to take almost a decade to bring this technique into the market.
So keep looking for some more advancements in Dentistry which can change the way Dentistry is being done.