Researchers at the University of Plymouth Peninsula Dental School have discovered a new class of dental stem cells that could help regenerate teeth from within. The researchers studied rodents, who have constantly growing incisors and discovered a new class of mesenchymal stem cells, which use a genetic marker to communicate an injury and stimulate regeneration of the tooth. The gene in question was identified as Dlk1 and could offer insight into manipulating human dental pulp stem cells to regenerate teeth affected by decay and physical injury.
University of Pennsylvania researchers have utilized dental stem cells from baby teeth to restore injured teeth. The clinical trial involved the use of the patient’s own (autologous) stem cells to treat an injured permanent tooth. The stem cells were obtained from a healthy baby tooth [hence, posed no risk of rejection, since they were the patient’s own], expanded in the lab and implanted into the injured tooth. In follow-ups one year following the procedure, patients in the experimental group regained sensation in the previously injured tooth. The researchers also observed a significant regeneration of dentin, which is the hard part of the tooth, as well as vascularization in the pulp, which led to healthy root development and increased circulation.
A team of researchers from the Dental Institute at King’s College London has developed a natural approach to repair damaged teeth. Current methods include fillings and cement, which disrupt the normal mineral level of the tooth and can lead to infection. The new approach utilizes a collagen sponge infused with glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) to stimulate the stem cells in the pulp of the tooth to regenerate dentin and repair the tooth naturally. The collagen sponge degrades over time and is replaced by the naturally regenerated dentin. Lead author of the study, Professor Paul Sharpe, from King's College London states, "The simplicity of our approach makes it ideal as a clinical dental product for the natural treatment of large cavities, by providing both pulp protection and restoring dentine.”