Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City have developed a method of growing dental implants in place using stem cells. The process can result in a fully formed replacement tooth
in less than nine weeks from initial implantation. Unlike current dental implants, these teeth conform to changes that occur to the jaw bone over time, limiting the need for costly and time consuming adjustments or replacement implants.
Dr. Jeremy Mao and his colleagues at the Columbia’s Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory attach a scaffold infused with a growth factor to the empty tooth socket. Stem cells hone in on the scaffold, eventually forming a tooth of the correct shape and size to fit the individual patient’s mouth. In addition to forming a more naturally compatible tooth, this method eliminates the need to harvest stem cells or grow the implant in a petri dish or other laboratory environment then implanting it fully formed. This process also regenerates periodontal ligaments and alveolar bone, neither of which is possible with traditional dental implants, and makes for a much more effective and natural tooth replacement.
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