We don’t really prefer to go to the dentist. Firstly, some of us have this wrong notion that our teeth are invincible and so if we just brush, our teeth will be fine. But one of the most important reasons why we avoid the dentist, even when our teeth are sending shocking amounts of pain back to our brains, is because of the costs. Severe cavity generally means three things – a tooth extraction, dental implants or dentures. We don’t really want to lose our teeth. But then again, dentures and dental implants are very costly and they aren’t guaranteed to be comfortable either.
Dentures are generally used when there is a permanent loss of all your teeth. While dentures have always been used and have been considered one of the best solutions, they have their own set of problems. Dentures tend to slip and cause some movement issues if they are not properly fitted. So, they are not the best solution after all. Then, there are dental implants. They are preferred when you have lost one or two of your teeth. A dental implant is quite costly and there is always a risk of infection when you are using dental implants. The process takes a lot of time too, about 18 months and it is possible that the tooth might not fuse with the metal implant properly.
So, both of these currently available solutions can cause a major problem – they are not full-proof and are liable to failure. However, a study published in the Journal of Dental Research has come up with some good news. There might be a way in which new teeth can be grown on the spot and it would be almost natural. If something like this is possible then it would actually shake the very core of dentistry and medical sciences.
The new teeth will grow in the mouth of the patient and it will have a faster growth rate than any available artificial means. The answer to this is stem cells. Dr. Jeremy Mao and his team of dedicated doctors are trying to use the stem cells of our body that will be directed through a three-dimensional scaffold which will be infused with growth potency so that they can repair teeth in a natural way.
Stem cells have a unique ability. They are cells which can divide fast and change into any kind of specialized cell. So, it is already understood that this special cell can be used to cure damaged or lost organs if it is directed properly. Dr. Mao is looking into this area and has thus used it to expand his studies.
How will it work? When the stem cells are directed to the area of loss, they will slowly adapt to the surrounding tissue, fit easily with it, and then start growing. Within a period of 9 weeks, it can be as good as new. This kind of adaptability is impossible with any kind of metal as they cannot fit or integrate with the organic tissue around the tooth. Due to the adaptability of the stem-cell based tooth, it can easily move in your mouth and does not cause any kind of irritation or movement issues. Thus, it is a much better substitute than all the other kinds of dental procedures that we were supposed to go through – like dentures or dental implants.
This medical process is a much needed one especially if you consider how, about 26% of adults lose their teeth by the time they reach the age of 75. It will also tackle the issue of growing a tooth in a petri dish which is quite expensive. From all points of view, this new technology seems like a cost-effective way to deal with dental issues and tries to solve it. The Columbia University Medical Center has applied for a patent for this specific method. Generally, it takes some time to get the license. But if the university gets the license, then they will be able to use this technique for dental issues. However, on his side, Dr. Mao continues to do his own research and is attempting to get some kind of breakthrough. He’s trying to find out the best way to make this cost-effective implant work.
We can all keep our fingers crossed and wait for the news. If this groundbreaking technology does come to us, then we will not face any problems with dental implants and dentures any more. It will be a blessing we all need!