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.
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.