About 70 percent of adults in the United States have lost at least one tooth; about 58 percent of those aged 50 and older have fewer than the 21 teeth considered “functional;” and about 18 percent aged 65 or older have no natural teeth at all.
The good news is that scientists are working toward the day when a patient who loses a tooth will have the option of replacing it with a biological-based implant—a brand new natural tooth—derived from the patient’s own dental stem cells. To date, researchers have demonstrated in animal studies that a natural tooth, together with its associated bone, root, and nerves, will grow from a tooth “bud” of stem cells placed into an incision in the gum.
Research is helped by the fact that human dental stem cells are plentiful and raise no ethical issues—a potential source becomes available every time a dentist or dental surgeon pulls a loose baby tooth or a molar. No invasive procedure is needed to acquire them and they can be preserved for the donor’s own use, eliminating the chance of rejection if later used for the donor.
Although experiments in growing new teeth are still in the early stage, other applications of dental stem cells have already been demonstrated in human studies. These cells have been successfully used to regrow jawbone and treat periodontal disease.
Leading-edge research in regenerative dentistry also fosters progress in regenerative medicine. Teeth, unlike, say, the pancreas or the heart, are readily accessible, making it relatively easy to do procedures that demonstrate general principles in organ restoration.
If you are looking for a dentist in the Troy and Birmingham area who utilizes the latest dental techniques and technology, be sure to check out Dr. Douglas Angell. Angell’s Dentistry is committed to providing each of our patients with a beautiful, healthy smile and unmatched dental care. Be sure to visit our website at: www.angellsdentistry.com.