For years, researchers have investigated stem cells in an effort to grow teeth made for a person’s own cells. Toward this end, endodontics professor Dr. Peter Murray and colleagues from the College of Dental Medicine at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) have developed methods to control adult stem cell growth toward generating dental tissue and “real” replacement teeth.
The NSU researchers’ approach is to extract stem cells from oral tissue, such as inside a tooth itself, or from bone marrow. After being harvested, the cells are mounted to a polymer scaffold in the shape of the desired tooth. The polymer is the same material used in bioreabsorable sutures, so the scaffold eventually dissolves away. Teeth can be grown separately then inserted into a patient’s mouth or the stem cells can be grown within the mouth reaching a full-sized tooth within a few months.