When it comes to maintaining a good outward appearance, nothing could be quite as important as nice looking teeth. Maintaining a healthy smile projects confidence, health and an overall sense of well being to the outside world. And for a long time the “holy grail” of dentistry has been to be able to simply grow a new tooth to replace a missing one without having to resort to dental implants or bridges.
As of late July, there has been a breakthrough in that technology. Like many of the latest medical technological innovations, doctors have turned to stem cells to help grow a tooth. This is an extremely experimental technology, but essentially to grow a new tooth, cells need to be redirected back to their original or “stem” genealogy, and then differentiated and grown into formative dental cells. This complex and often controversial process has been under study for a long time. Scientists believe that for the first time they now have the formula for growing a tooth, but further stem cell research and experiments are necessary.
Due to conservative and reactionary legislation in the US, most of this groundbreaking research is happening overseas. A professor at the Institute of Biotechnology in Helsinki, Finland found what researchers call a “marker” for growing a tooth. According to this professor, the transcription factor Sox2 is distinctly present in stem cells for the incisor or front tooth, according to Sciencedaily.com. Whether or not we realize it, these incisors are continuously growing, and their growth is fueled by stem cells found at the base of the incisor tooth.
Recent research carried out at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) has outlined a complex process to regrow new teeth, according to Singularityhub.com. Scientists believe they know the process they need to use to grow teeth, but a lack of stem cells has made further experimentation difficult at this time. One would only hope that soon our well-intentioned but essentially ignorant and closed minded governmental officials will stop blocking stem cell research and create the intellectual and scientific environment that will enable stem cell related breakthroughs in diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, all sorts of congenital defects and , of course, growing new teeth to replace damaged or missing ones!
Well, that’s all for today. Until next time,
Dr. Mark W. Langberg, DDS, MAGD
26206 West 12 Mile Road, Suite 303
Southfield, MI 48034