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Will Dental Stem Cells Provide a Permanent Alternative to Dental Implants?

In Dental Implants on July 14, 2011 at 4:30 AM

When it comes to a missing tooth or teeth, dental implants are often the preferred method of permanent tooth replacement. A dental bridge or a complete set of shiny new dentures could be the not so permanent alternative…if you let your oral health fall by the wayside.

A new tooth replacement option could be in the works, at least judging from recent news out of Japan.

According to an article published this week from DrBicuspid.com, scientists in Japan said on Wednesday they have created teeth — complete with  connective fibers and bones — by using mouse stem cells and successfully transplanted them into mice, a step they hope will lead to progress in stem cell research.

“The bioengineered teeth were fully functional … there was no trouble (with) biting and eating food after transplantation,” wrote Masamitsu Oshima, assistant professor at the Research Institute for Science and Technology, Tokyo University of Science.

Another way science and technology are coming together to improve our oral health.

Although the thought of a completely new set of Steve Austin chompers is probably more than several years off, the research and continued testing is the foundation from which all of us as dental patients will ultimately benefit.

Dental stem cells are immature, unspecialized cells in the body that are able to grow into specialized cell types by a process known as “differentiation.” There are two primary sources of stem cells: embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. Adult stem cells are found in many organs and tissues in the human body, including the dental pulp contained within teeth. Embryonic stem cells have the ability to grow into any cell type in the body.

However, there is great ethical controversy regarding obtaining and using these stem cells for medical research and treatment purposes.

Until recently, it was thought that adult stem cells could only turn into cells that were the same as those in the tissues and organs in which they were found. It is now known that adult stem cells taken from one area of the body can be transplanted into another area and grown into a completely different type of tissue.

This ability to grow and regenerate tissues is the focus of the emerging field of personalized medicine, which uses a patient’s own stem cells for biologically compatible therapies and individually tailored treatments. (Source: DentistryIQ.com)

So, dental stem cells are outside the controversial embryonic stem cell argument.

Does all of this seem to sci-fi for you, or do you consider dental stem cells a possible future solution to permanently replacing missing teeth?

(Sources: DentistryIQ.com), DrBicuspid.com)

 

Growing New Teeth from Dental Stem Cells?

In Dental Products on May 5, 2011 at 4:30 AM

According the always visible and mostly reliable Wikipedia, stem cells are biological cells found in all multicellular organisms, that can divide through mitosis and differentiate into diverse specialized cell types and can self-renew to produce more stem cells. In mammals, there are two broad types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells that are isolated from the inner cell mass of blastocysts, and adult stem cells that are found in various tissues.

Make sense?

Basically stem cells act as an internal repair system in our bodies, regenerating cells, tissue, and even organs. Although the science and research is still evolving, dental stem cells could represent a quantum leap in our normal everyday dental care.

In 2000, scientists with the National Institute of Health discovered stem cells in both baby teeth and wisdom teeth. The NIH also points out; dental stem cells are adult stem cells, not the controversial and often debated embryonic stem cells. In addition, dental stem cells are a lot easier to obtain and less invasive than bone marrow stem cells.

Will it be possible to actually grow a new healthy tooth to replace a missing one?

As reported  by a recent Provia Labs press release, although experiments in growing new teeth remain early-stage research, other applications of dental stem cells have already been demonstrated in human studies. These cells have been successfully used to regrow jawbone and treat periodontal disease.

One of the leaders in the world of dental stem cells is Dr. Paul Sharpe, a recent speaker at The First International Conference on Dental and Craniofacial Stem Cells that took place last week in New York City.

“In the future we envision,” explains Dr. Sharpe, “a patient who loses a tooth and wants a replacement will be able to choose between current methods and a biological-based implant—a new natural tooth—derived from the patient’s own dental stem cells.”

Store-A-Tooth™, a division of Provia Labs, goes on to mention how scientists and clinicians are investigating many additional uses for dental stem cells, from treating root canals to even regenerating whole new teeth. The earliest applications for dental stem cells are expected to be the repair of damaged tooth structures and craniofacial defects, bone regeneration, and possibly the treatment of neural tissue injury or degenerative diseases.

The Store-A-Tooth website goes on to mention how dental stem cells are also being studied as a way to help treat a number of medical diseases and conditions:

  • Diabetes
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Stroke
  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • Liver disease
  • Cornea repair
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s

Is this all too far away to imagine a practical application of dental stem cells?

Should we all start banking away our dental stem cells for future withdrawal?

How say you?

For more information about stem cells, visit the National Institutes of Health’s Stem Cell Information page at http://stemcells.nih.gov/info.

A Dental Exam Before Beginning Chemotherapy?

In Dental Care on October 25, 2011 at 4:30 AM

Routine dental examinations prevent against tooth decay, gum disease, and other issues detrimental to not only our oral health, but our overall physical health as well.

Basically this regular exam, teeth cleaning, oral cancer screening, and any other diagnostic procedure such as digital radiography, allow our dentists to gain a complete picture of our oral health.

In order for our trusted family dentist to accurately communicate our current oral health situation, we actually need to go to the dentist!

But that’s been said before, and it will be said again – at least as long as you’re a reader of this little dental-centric blog.

Dental exams become anything but routine when we factor in some other health-related variables. Pregnancies, diabetes, even chemotherapy all represent opportunities for the cavity creeps to grab hold of our optimal oral health and throw a wrench in the works. A Dental Exam Before Chemotherapy

In order for us to receive a total picture of our overall systemic health, it is essential we pay attention to our teeth and gums too.

Without oral health concerns, our picture is out of focus.

It’s the whole incisor, to our oral systemic health connection we’ll all learn more about, as this area of research and patient education becomes more widely known.

When Life Happens, See the Dentist

Maybe going to the dentist isn’t our first thought on receiving the positive pregnancy test news, and perhaps diabetes and dentistry don’t seem like two subjects that go hand in hand. In order for us to maintain optimal health and wellness, we need to actively promote our own optimal oral health.

If not, we’re missing a crucial part of the equation. But our trusted local social dentists are not going to let that happen.

A Dental Exam Before ChemotherapyGiven October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month; we’d like to take the opportunity to promote some local dentistry as it relates to chemotherapy and breast cancer.

Chemotherapy is another cancer treatment regime, or area of health care, where dentistry factors into the equation.

According to Dr. Reitz, in his weekly dental article for the ReadingEagle.com (Reading, PA.);

Both chemotherapy and radiation therapy are effective in treating fast-growing cancer cells but are also toxic to rapidly dividing cells such as bone marrow and mucus membranes.

Mucus membranes line our mouth, throat, digestive and respiratory systems.

In his article, Dr. Reitz explains how everyone experiences mouth ulcers at one time or another, which is totally normal. But more importantly, a similar ulceration occurs during chemotherapy, but to a greater degree and often more painfully.

Dr. Reitz goes on to mention how, in addition to the chemotherapy being toxic to mucus membranes, it also prevents cells in the mouth from reproducing, making it difficult for oral tissue to repair itself.

A healthy mouth contains many different bacteria, some beneficial, others detrimental.

It’s thought that chemotherapy reduces the amount and consistency of saliva, allowing more bad (pathogenic) bacteria to proliferate. Click the link to learn more about how chemotherapy affects mouth ulcer causes and treatment, read Dr. Reitz’s entire article from the ReadingEagle.com.

Then, be sure to SHARE this dental health information with your entire friend list!

Better yet, take this article and post it to your Facebook Wall – and be sure to give a ‘Like’ to Dr. Reitz while you’re at it!