Research proves stem cells can regenerate the jawbone
Researchers working at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry (UMSoD) have been able to find a way to utilise stem cells to regenerate the jawbone of patients who have suffered fractures or trauma injuries to the face.
Up to half of people who sufferers a blow or break to the facial area can also incur a loss of teeth as well as damage the tissue and bone structure that surrounds the mouth and thus far, treating such injuries has proved a difficult challenge for scientists, doctors and dentists alike.
Craniofacial treatments that aim to fix teeth deficiencies commonly run into problems – mainly that the jawbone must be fixed and fully working to support the teeth it hosts. Because of this, research has taken the direction of regenerating the jawbone first then looking into how stem cells can be used to restore teeth.
Like other aspects of stem cell therapies for different ailments, one of the main benefits of using stem cells in the process is that they are generated from the patient in question. This means there is no need to inject synthetic materials, which always carries a chance of refusal. As the stem cells come from the patients themselves, the chance of refusing this input is highly unlikely.
The treatment is carried out under local anaesthetic, and the healing time is much quicker compared to more traditional methods of therapy (such as bone grafting). It also limits the amount of pain the patient must suffer during and after the process.
For one case study, researchers opted to work with a 45-year-old woman who was missing seven of her front teeth, along with 75% of the bone that used to provide support for the teeth. She was unfortunately left with severe issues from both a functional and cosmetic viewpoint, because of an injury she suffered five years previously.
The lead researcher of the study, Dr Darnell Kaigler Jr., DDS, PhD, is the assistant professor of dentistry in the department of periodontics and oral medicine at UMSoD, and he said of the research: “In small jawbone defects of the mouth created after teeth were extracted, we have placed gelatin sponges populated with stem cells into these areas to successfully grow bone.”
Just four months after therapy, the scientists found that 80% of the jawbone had regenerated, which allowed dentists to place oral implants in the jawbone successfully, as she was able to host them with proper craniofacial support. Anthony Atala, MD, suggested that: “As the first report to describe a cell therapy for craniofacial trauma reconstruction, this research serves as the foundation for expanded studies using this approach.”
We believe the best stem cells to use in emerging treatments will be the patient’s own stem cells as this doesn’t require a search for a suitable donor and in turn, eliminates chances of the transplanted cells being rejected.