In the not-too-distant future, people may have the option to receive biological tooth replacement instead of dental implants.
Researchers at King’s College Dental Institute are working on a technique that replaces missing teeth with real bioengineered teeth.
Their work, which is published in the Journal of Dental Research, describes how teeth can be “bioengineered” with a person’s gum cells.
First, they isolated adult gum tissue from subjects, then grew more tissue in the laboratory. Next, they combined it with the teeth-forming cells of mice, also known as mesenchyme cells. As a result, they were able to grow hybrid teeth that contained dentine, enamel and roots.
Challenges Remain Before Tooth Replacement Becomes Viable
Professor Paul Sharpe, leader of the study, says that, in order to make biological tooth replacement a viable alternative to dental implants
, they must identify and obtain sources for adult human epithelial cells and mesenchymal cells.
Another major challenge, according to Sharpe, is to “identify a way to culture adult human mesenchymal cells to be tooth-inducing, as at the moment we can only make embryonic mesenchymal cells do this.”
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