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.
Researchers in Japan have made headway in bringing tooth regeneration to clinical trials. This major breakthrough involved utilizing both epithelial and dental stem cells to create tooth buds that were then implanted into the jaw bone. The ‘tooth buds’ grew into fully functional adult teeth in the span of 5 months. In this animal model, the researchers first used a biological scaffold and seeded the epithelial and dental stem cells to create a tooth bud, which acts like a seed for a new tooth to grow. This is similar to the tooth buds that children have below their deciduous teeth (baby teeth). The study showed that the regenerated tooth maintained both biological form and function, including a response to orthodontic force that caused the biological implanted tooth to move in the same way a normal tooth would.