Stem Cell Research In Dentistry

Stem cells have been all in the news recently, and we know about the experiments that surround them, and of their healing properties. Research into stem cells began in the 1960s, and Canadian scientists Ernest A McCulloch and James E. Till were the first scientists to produce results involving stem cell research. These cells are often used in cancer treatment therapies, but prestigious journals like Science and Nature find newer and newer uses for them on a daily basis. It is incredible, that these tiny cells also play a role in treating Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, strokes and atrophied muscles as well.

In a recent discovery, it turns out that stem cells can also help with healing deformations of the jaw as well. And this type of treatment is much less invasive and less painful, too!


What Are Stem Cells?

Stem cells can be found in most living creatures. What makes them special is their mitotic cell division, because this makes them able to become different, specialized cells if put in the right environment. This is how stem cells make sure that we always have enough tissue of a given sort to be able to function properly, as when we do not have a given cell type, the stem cells simply morph into the specialized cell. We currently know of three sources that provide stem cells in a large quantity that can be used for therapeutical purposes. Blood found in the umbilical cord can be harvested from the umbilical cord after the baby has been separated from the umbilical chord, and this procedure can be done without risk to mother or child. The bone marrow also has stem cells, ones that are responsible for making red and white blood cells, and platelets as well. These can be harvested from the collarbone or from the hipbone as well. We can also gain stem cells from peripheral blood.

The Smallest Organisms With The Largest Benefits

The study that eventually proved that stem cells are able to heal the deformities of jawbones was completed with the help of 24 patients, and the study also proved that this can be done much more quickly and easily than with any other procedure or treatment. The Michigan Dental University had two groups that were given the task of healing the jawbone after the extraction of a tooth. One group used the usual bone regenerative techniques, while the other used stem cells. 

The stem cells used in this research were ones gained from the collarbone of the patients involved, which were treated with Aastrom treatment. This treatment makes the bone marrow cells multiply, including the stem cells, which were then implanted into the ruined tissue of the jawbone. According to Darnell Kaigler, this is relevant because the replacement of a tooth is expensive and requires invasive surgery, and it is extremely difficult to provide natural looking prostheses to patients suffering from jawbone disorders. With stem cells, the damaged jaws can be regenerated to a degree where putting a dental implant becomes a simple medical procedure.

If the patient has jaw problems because of a birth defect or chromosomal disorder, their situation becomes more complicated, because the treatment has to affect the bones, skin and connective tissues of the patient in question. Stem cells are very useful in these situations, as they provide a natural healing alternative, and do not involve any type of artificial, invasive care, and the patient is left to heal him/herself with their own tissue.

Hope For The Future

The patients who had stem cell treatments were given dental implants 6-12 weeks after treatment. These patients had quicker regrowth and higher bone densities than the other group, and they very rarely needed artificial bone enhancement therapies to supplement their jawbones. According to the researchers, the results are extremely promising, but it is too early to start revolutionizing the industry,a s stem cell research is still in its infancy. In all likelihoöod, an estimated 5-10 years are still needed to bring the process and techniques to maturity, but by that time there will probably be even more uses in maxillofacial surgery for this awesome resource. But that requires tons of research and even more experimentation, before a safe stem cell based science can be born.

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