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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)

 

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Dentures vs. Dental Implants

In Dental Implants on June 23, 2011 at 4:30 AM

When it comes to missing teeth, we usually have to choose between one or the other; Dentures or Implants. But how can we be sure we’re making the best choice for optimal long-term oral health?

We can start by communicating with our dentists.

Then we can continue to educate ourselves by asking friends and family that have experienced one particular solution or another for their missing teeth. Surely the opinions and surrounding circumstances will vary, but we’ll certainly gain some additional insight into the dentures vs. implants equation.

Dentures are removable prosthetic devices or appliances designed to replace missing teeth. When we think of dentures, lots of people think of “false teeth” and Polydent® commercials and Martha Raye.

Dental Implants are fixed, permanent solutions to missing teeth. Implants are surgically inserted into a patient’s jawbone, resulting in a more comfortable and permanent solution to a removable hockey player smile.

Cost

Sometimes – and much to the detriment of our optimal oral health – we make dental healthcare decisions based on cost. This is often the case when we’re presented with the treatment options necessary to replace a missing tooth, or teeth.

When it comes to choosing between dental implants or dentures, we’re best served doing as much homework as possible. After all, we’re talking about our teeth…unless we want to drink our food for the rest of our lives; this isn’t a decision to enter into lightly.

And it shouldn’t be one based solely on cost.

Yes, dentures are usually more affordable than dental implants. But do we really want to be bargain hunting when we’re talking about our teeth, let alone overall systemic health and wellness?

Furthermore, if we factor in the maintenance, possibility of loss or damage, and the probability of ill-fitting dentures needing to be re-fitted every so often (7-15 years on average); is there still such a cost disparity between dentures and dental implants?

Comfort

There are lots of problems that can arise from wearing dentures. From poor-fitting prosthetics to inflamed gums, dentures often become more of a hassle and require more maintenance than the more permanent solution of dental implants.

In doing our research as responsible dental patients, when confronted with the dentures vs. implants question, comfort would definitely be the biggest gripe. Simply put, dentures can’t be too comfortable.

They can slip, crack, or simply just stop fitting so well due to changes in our bone structure.

Did you know dentures may lead to bone loss in the area where the tooth or teeth are missing?

According to the AAOMS (American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons), statistics show that 69% of adults ages 35 to 44 have lost at least one permanent tooth to an accident, gum disease, a failed root canal or tooth decay. Furthermore, by age 74, 26% of adults have lost all of their permanent teeth.

When it comes to closing that gap tooth smile, or replacing our chompers in their entirety, the dentures vs. implant question will be presented to us.

How we answer will determine the amount of time needed for upkeep, costs involved, and comfort level achieved.

Choose…but choose wisely!