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Posts Tagged ‘root canals’

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.

Reception Area Entertainment or Education?

In Dental Care on March 31, 2011 at 4:30 AM

Some people prefer the calming effects a fish tank can have; others like to flip through the latest issue of People® or ESPN® magazines. Kids and younger generations are generally known for tapping away at their mobile phones every chance they get, the dental office isn’t any different.

It is only the kids thumbing their phones, right?

Whether it’s pop culture, politics, sports, or hobbies, mobile phones are quickly becoming everyone’s media consumption mode of choice. Maybe a mobile app of a fish tank would be popular. Picture it; we walk into the dental office for our thrice yearly appointment, check-in at the reception desk, and rush to go pull up the latest greatest virtual fish tank. Then the fun begins, staring at fake fish on a 3” screen… ahh, the beginnings of a truly sublime dental experience.

We can do better.

Lots of dental practices have already taken the patient experience to a whole new level. Some reception areas have transformed from dental office to a high tech electronic showroom. Flat screen HD TVs, video gaming consoles for the kids, even a Xoom® or iPad® in the reception area, have all been reported.

The video games are only for the kids, right?

That’s all well and good for the news or entertainment fix, but what about the reason we’re at the dentist in the first place, isn’t it possible to communicate and absorb some important (if not entertaining) dental health information?

The ADA recently released Toothflix, a DVD patient education series aimed at letting us know what’s going on in our mouths, popular cosmetic options, and the oral connection to our overall health. The videos can also assist in explaining complicated treatments such as root canals, scaling and root planing, dental implants, or tooth extractions.

Research continues to yield results, and treatment methods continue to evolve as both technology and information present a clearer picture of optimum oral health. We can’t possibly keep up with everything, it’s up to the people we trust with our health care to disseminate and divulge the important information. The reception area, not to mention the chair, is where we can absorb that important dental health info. Will you tune in or out?

No matter what the dental office reception area evolves into, one thing can be certain. Dental patients will determine what stays and what goes. Share some of your reception area ideas and photos, the holographic fish tank wall accoutrement we’re developing is taking longer than expected and we’d like the help. You never know, your idea could be the next quantum leap in dental reception area entertainment and education – like the virtual fish tank app!