Engineering artificial teeth without current complications.
There was a time when people with problematic teeth were deprived of them, because it was the best dentists could do for them. If the looks were highly valued or if there were no much more teeth left, dentures were developed.
But while initially fulfilling patients needs, gums shrank with age and once again there was a problem. Dentures were no longer viable. Then, not long ago, the single implant came into being. It could restore an entire mouth, but not without after-surgical pain. Futhermore, this method often presents an elevated rate of complication and need for additional interventions besides the cost of such intervention. It is therefore not, at all, a global method.
Now, here comes the news! It appears science has created a way to engineer artificial teeth without the above mentioned complications. To make this possible, several institutions worked together (Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, and Boston Children’s Hospital) to come up with a tissue-friendly material which would contract when warmed up to body temperature (37ºC).
At room temperature this material is sponge-like, but when implanted into the body, it should shrink and compact with mesenchymal cells inside it. After more than a year of work authors of the study succeeded in the development of such gel: cells adhere to it and it compresses shortly at 37ºC.
The cells that are kept inside are essential to the process: they activate three genes that are responsible for tooth formation. Despite this encouraging results, for an ideal tooth it is also necessary that mesenchymal cells are combined with cells responsible for the formation of the epithelium. ‘In the future, the scientists plan to test whether the shrinking gel can stimulate both tissues to generate an entire functional tooth.’
This process might even be applied to repair and grow entire bones and other organs, when fully developed.
Photo: flickr, chrisjohnbeckett
Bullock, M. (2013). Principles and practice of single implant and restoration BDJ, 215 (2), 100-100 DOI: 10.1038/sj.bdj.2013.733
teeth, new, fake, implant, dentist, regeneration, pain, complication