Reattaching Teeth Using Stem Cells

We have all heard of stem cells in the news, and how they may be used in treating serious diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.  Although stem cell therapies exist, most are in the experimental stages at this time. One area of research showing great promise is the use of stem cells to reattach teeth lost due to trauma.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have developed and successfully tested a new approach of anchoring teeth back into the jaw using stem cells.

Researchers at the Brodie Laboratory obtained stem cells from molars of mice, expanded them in an incubator and then seeded them on barren rat molars.  These molars were then reinserted into the tooth sockets of the rats.

The researchers found that after two and four months, the stem cells formed new fibrous attachments between the rat’s tooth and bone, which firmly attached the tooth into the animal’s mouth.  By taking tissue samples, the researchers discovered the replanted tooth was surrounded by newly formed, periodontal ligament fibers and new cementum, the ingredients necessary for a healthy tooth attachment.

Researchers labeled stem cells with a fluorescent green protein in the experiment to verify that the new ligament was formed by the transplanted cells and not by the animal’s own cells.

Although it will be quite some time before this approach can be applied to humans, researchers feel that in the future, their strategy could be used for anchoring teeth back into the jaw that were lost due to trauma or perhaps even for tooth replacement using tooth-shaped replicas, as well.