At our SW Portland dental office, Dr. Beck works hard to ensure that every patient enjoys a healthy, great-looking smile for a lifetime.
Enjoying quality oral health requires making a consistent commitment towards protecting your teeth from the effects of tooth decay and gum disease. When these chronic conditions go untreated, they can permanently damage the underlying tissue and bone structure that hold our teeth into position. This can result in permanent tooth loss, a condition far more common than you might assume.
By the age of 74, roughly 26 percent of adults will have lost all of their permanent teeth, according to studies conducted by the American Dental Association.
While dentures offer an alternative for patients who’ve lost all of their permanent teeth, a solution for regrowing teeth may be closer than dentists have believed possible.
The Potential for Regrowing Teeth
A new technique currently being tested at Columbia University’s Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory could offer the potential for making tooth loss no more common than polio or measles.
Researchers believe the solution for stimulating the body to regrow teeth lies in using the body’s own stem cells to migrate a three-dimensional scaffold created from natural materials that are inserted into a patient’s mouth.
After the body’s stem cells have accepted the scaffold, a tooth can then grow in the socket and begin to merge with the surrounding tissue. At the core, researchers believe they can build a tooth in the mouth similar to how building is created, but with the body providing the bricks. The finished product? A new and healthy tooth, regrown in the mouth in about 9 weeks.
In their study, researchers implanted a scaffold into the mouths of rats being used as test subjects. The rats were missing teeth in the areas of the mouth where the scaffolding was placed.
Following a 9-week period, researchers noted the growth of both new bone and gum tissue in the mouths of the rats that were implanted with the scaffold. Not only was new bone and tissue growth noted, but researchers also found that the existing tissue in the mouths of the rats had started to integrate and meld with the new growth.
“These findings represent the primary report of regeneration of anatomically formed tooth-like structures in vivo, and by cell homing without cell delivery,” wrote the research team in their findings. “The efficiency of cell orienting is supported not solely be cell enlisting into scaffold microchannel however additionally by regeneration of a supposed dentistry ligaments freshly fashioned alveolar bone.”
In other words, not only did the rats used in the study regrow new gum tissue, they also regrew new teeth as well.
A Change in Treatment
Currently, dental implants rank as the best option Dr. Beck has at our SW Portland dental office for replacing missing teeth.
A dental implant acts serves as a replacement for the natural roots of a tooth. An implant is inserted surgically into a patient’s jawbone where a natural tooth has fallen out. Usually, a dental crown is then placed over an implant to serve the function of a replacement tooth. An implant can also be used to provide stability and support to dentures and a dental bridge.
However, despite the effectiveness of dental implants, they aren’t quite the same as natural teeth. If given more time to perfect their technique, researchers believe a future is possible where patients who are missing permanent teeth have the option to regrow what they’ve lost.
This would take how Dr. Beck treats patients at our SW Portland dental office in a whole new direction, and promise a future with a lot more healthy looking smiles.