Fascinating scientific research studies are underway all the time to improve medical fields such as dentistry. Through the work of researchers over the years, we have found out the importance of compounds such as fluoride and dental sealants. Research has allowed dental scientists to come up with better materials for making restorations and dental implants appear aesthetically pleasing while remaining durable. Recent research performed at the University of Southern California (USC) is one of the first steps in learning how stem cells can help regenerate teeth in the same manner that certain animals do in nature.
Human Tooth Replacement of the Future
A global team of researchers led by USC pathology Professor Cheng-Ming Chuong, M.D., Ph.D discovered that “Specialized stem cell niche enables repetitive renewal of alligator teeth.” The research results were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This publication is the official journal of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Professor Chuong pointed out that humans only generate teeth twice in the average life span. The first is when primary (baby) teeth gradually erupt in babies and toddlers. After they fall out one-at-a-time, permanent teeth replace them. This is nothing when compared to the alligator. The research team isolated stem cells as the main reason for the natural regrowth of teeth which occurs when an alligator loses a tooth due to hunting or fighting.
Potential Regeneration in Humans
Alligators are among a plethora of animals who are able to regenerate teeth as many as 50 times throughout their life span. Dr. Chuong and his team utilized microscopic imaging to compartmentalize alligator teeth into three components. In the front, alligators have a set of current functioning teeth. Behind the current teeth are backup teeth waiting in the wings. Behind the backup teeth is dental lamina, which is comprised of stem cells. The scientists hope to isolate these cells in future research studies. Hopefully this will allow them to regenerate alligator teeth in a lab setting so they might do the same with human teeth in the future.
Visit your Sheridan Dentist
To learn about protecting your oral health, schedule a consultation at Grinnell Street Dental by contacting our Sheridan dentist office at (307) 672-7567. We welcome patients from Sheridan, WY and the surrounding communities.