Columbia University Medical Center

Regrowing Adult Teeth Might Be Possible Using Stem Cell Dental Implants

Let's look at the evolution of our teeth for a moment.

First, we have no teeth. We're simply born as gummy-mouthed babies. Then our teeth start coming in, which hurts but this is still considered a pretty big moment for us.

After all our teeth have come in, they proceed to fall out. Not all at once (can you imagine?) but gradually, and then they're replaced with new, adult teeth.

But unfortunately, we don't get to keep these pearly whites forever.

Unsplash | Lesly Juarez

We get to enjoy a mouth full of adult teeth for a while, perhaps briefly shackled with braces or retainers, but eventually simply on their own. That is, until those, too, start falling out.

And then we end up with a swanky set of artificial teeth. The end. Right?

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center think otherwise.

According to Distractify, the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory of Dr. Jeremy Mao, Edward V. Zegarelli Professor of Dental Medicine, and a professor of biomedical engineering at the school have pioneered a technique that could make adult tooth loss non-existent.

It all has to do with stem cells.

Unsplash | Lucas Vasques

The group's research involves using stem cells to essentially regrow adult teeth in as little as just nine weeks.

By placing a "scaffold" of a tooth made of natural material inside the mouth, researchers have found dental stem cells then grow inside the cavity and replace the missing tooth.

As of right now, the best option for replacing missing teeth are dental implants.

Unsplash | Matthew Poetker

But these implants have their problems, such as the amount of time it takes for a patient to heal from the procedure and the amount of follow-up visits they require, totaling about 18 months in all.

There's also always the possibility that the new teeth won't take.

The stem cell method would significantly speed up healing time.

Plus, this method would mean it's your own tooth growing inside your mouth, so it will integrate with your body in a way that false teeth simply can't.

Because of that, this tooth is way less likely to fall out, like a rejected dental implant.

Some people online are excited at the prospect of regrowing their missing teeth.

Many have also applauded the strides researchers have made in using stem cells, and are optimistic in what the future holds for repairing the human body using these methods.

However, others are a bit more suspicious about the availability of these treatments.

Specifically, just what portion of the population will be able to actually afford to regrow their own teeth. As appealing of an idea it is, some think it sounds like a costly idea reserved for the wealthiest among us.

The university has already filed patent applications for this technology.

So who knows? We might be seeing this means of replacing teeth also replace the likes of dental implants and dentures very soon.

And maybe that's something we can all smile about.

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