Fascinating scientific research is constantly underway to improve the field of dentistry. Through studies over many years, scientists have discovered the importance of fluoride and dental sealants. That’s just one of many examples of important dental innovations that are now a regular part of the oral health world. Recent research done at the University of Southern California (USC) could be one of the first steps in learning how stem cells have the potential to help us regenerate teeth the way certain animals do.
Tooth Restoration Study
The global team of scientists were led by USC pathology Professor Cheng-Ming Chuong, M.D., Ph.D. The study was titled: Specialized stem cell niche enables repetitive renewal of alligator teeth. The researchers results were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which is the official journal of the United States National Academy of Sciences.
Comparing Humans and Animals
Professor Chong pointed out that people only generate teeth twice in their life time. The first is when baby teeth naturally erupt throughout early life. After they fall out, permanent teeth grow in. This is a small amount of teeth renewal in humans when compared to the alligator. Alligators can thank stem cells as being an important part of the natural regrowth of teeth which occurs when they experience a dental casualty due to hunting or fighting. The theory of the study was that if we can understand the way alligator’s teeth work, maybe we can replicate the process to restore human teeth.
The Three Parts of Alligator Teeth
Alligators are among many animals that are capable of regenerating teeth as many as 50 times throughout their life span. Dr. Chong and his research team utilized microscopic imaging to break alligator teeth down into three separate components. In the front they have the current functioning tooth. Waiting in the wings is a backup tooth, in case something should happen. Behind that is something called dental lamina which is believed to be comprised of stem cells. The scientists plan to isolate these cells in future clinical research, and hopefully regenerate alligator teeth in a lab setting to better understand the overall process.
About Mai Dentistry
At Mai Dental Care we offer you confident, compassionate comprehensive dentistry services. Our goal is to help you achieve a bright, beautiful smile. For our patients who don’t speak English, our office is fluent in Spanish and Vietnamese. To schedule an appointment, call today at 972-530-0552.