Tooth Restoration

Using Technology To Grow New Teeth


The foods that you eat come in contact with the germs and bacteria that live in the mouth. If you don't brush, plaque will accumulate on the teeth. Plague thrives on the starches and sugars that are found in a great deal of foods.

When plaque combines with the sugars and starches within the mouth, an acid is produced that attacks the enamel on the teeth, and eventually causes tooth decay.

Some medications, including prescription drugs and over-the-counter preparations, can damage your teeth. Medications can cause gum problems such as inflammation, bleeding or ulceration. Diseased gums can lead to other dental problems including tooth loss.

Many drugs, both legal and illegal, reduce the flow of saliva and cause a condition called 'dry mouth'. Dry mouth significantly increases the risk of tooth decay. This is because saliva reduces the population of bacteria in the mouth and reduces decay-causing mouth acids.

Saliva also contains substances crucial to the ongoing process of re-mineralisation, which is the repair of tooth enamel (the hard surface layer that protects the tooth) that has been damaged by acids. Regular intake of alcohol can cause a dry mouth and tooth damage as most alcohols are acidic. Smoking is associated with an increased rate of gum problems as well as an increased risk of cancers, including oral cancer.

Tooth Restoration

A group of scientists at the University of Leeds' School of Chemistry have discovered a tooth treatment that would eliminate the need for that unpleasant drilling session in the dentist's chair. Basically, a gel works to stimulate decayed teeth to regenerate themselves.

The new treatment focuses on tackling the first signs of tooth decay. Once the tooth starts to rot, a peptide-based fluid is painted onto the tooth's surface to stimulate regeneration. The peptide, known as P 11-4, interacts with the acid produced by bacteria in plaque. This acid is what dissolves the minerals in teeth. At this point, the fluid forms a gel that provides a "scaffold" that attracts calcium and regenerates the tooth's mineral from inside the tooth. Natural and pain-free tooth repair!

"This may sound too good to be true, but we are essentially helping acid-damaged teeth to regenerate themselves. It is a totally natural non-surgical repair process and is entirely pain-free," said Professor Jennifer Kirkham, from the University of Leeds Dental Institute, who led development of the new technique.

Once the gel or thin film had been tested on unsuspecting mice and was deemed acceptable for human mouths, a group of volunteers with initial signs of tooth decay got to sample the gel and found it was successful at reversing the decay. "The results of our tests so far are extremely promising," said Professor Paul Brunton, who is overseeing the patient testing at the University of Leeds Dental Institute. "If these results can be repeated on a larger patient group, then I have no doubt whatsoever that in two to three years time this technique will be available for dentists to use in their daily practice."

Tooth Regeneration

Most individuals who visit a dentist to replace a missing tooth are given limited treatment options like dentures and various dental implants. This may not be enough to suffice their needs. A technique being developed by experts at Columbia University reveals that stem cells may be made to move to a three-dimensional scaffold, infused with growth factor. This will enable a tooth to grow anatomically within a time frame of nine weeks from implant.

This three-dimensional scaffold technique not only eliminates the need to cultivate teeth in a Petri dish, but it is the first to achieve regeneration of anatomically correct teeth by using the body's own resources. Taking into account the faster recovery time and the comparatively natural process of regrowth (as opposed to implantation), and you have an extremely appealing dental treatment.

Usually general tooth implants may include a cone-shaped titanium screw topped with a roughened or smooth surface. The titanium screw or screws are placed in the jaw bone by an outpatient procedure, and will quite often take about six months to heal even if you recover quickly. Although dental implants are available, the healing process can take months on end, and implants that fail to align with the ever-growing jawbone tend to fall out. The success of the implant can possibly depend on multiple visits to different clinicians, including general dentists, oral surgeons, periodontists and prosthodontists. But this new three-dimensional scaffold procedure claims to employ a very natural process with minimal recovery time and the implant lasts for the lifetime of the patient.

The Columbia University has already filed patent applications in regard to the technology and is seeking associates to aid in its commercialisation. In the meantime, the experts at Columbia University are considering the best approach for applying this technique to provide a cost-effective clinical therapy.

Grow Your Own Teeth

Patients will soon be growing their own replacement teeth, say dentists, thanks to a major scientific breakthrough from Odontis Ltd, a cutting-edge research and development company formed by London's prestigious King's College. Odontis' pioneering technology will allow the patient to grow replacement teeth naturally. Instead of having a synthetic implant or wearing dentures, a small 'bud' of cells capable of growing into a new tooth would be implanted where the missing teeth used to be. In addition to avoiding surgical trauma, the patient will benefit from the psychological boost of having grown their own teeth.

The project is being masterminded by genetic research scientist Professor Paul Sharpe, Head of Division of Craniofacial Biology and Biomaterials of the Dental Institute at King's College. His discovery is based on human stem cell technology. Stem cells are taken from the patient, treated and cultured in a laboratory, then re-implanted in the patient's jaw under the gum at the site of the missing or extracted tooth. This 'bud' of cells then grows into a fully-formed, live tooth in the same way that teeth develop naturally.

In both the US and UK, adults aged over 50 lose on average 12 teeth, including four wisdom molars, from a full complement of 32 teeth. Lost teeth can lead to problems with health, nutrition and appearance. "A key medical advantage of our technology is that a living tooth can preserve the health of the surrounding tissues much better than artificial prosthesis," says Professor Sharpe. "Teeth are living, and they are able to respond to a person's bite. They move, and in doing so they maintain the health of the surrounding gums and teeth."