Search on for Way to Grow New Teeth

Source: JIM RITTER Health Reporter, Sun Times,

It won’t happen anytime soon, but the day may be coming when you go to the dentist to grow a new tooth. More than a dozen research teams in the United States and Europe are experimenting with techniques to grow adult teeth from scratch. Perhaps farthest along is a team headed by researcher Paul Sharpe of Kings College London.

In an e-mail interview, Sharpe said he is seeking funding of $5.2 million to begin testing in humans within three years. The teeth would be “completely normal and identical in every way to existing teeth.”

Growing teeth would be a more natural alternative to dentures, dental implants and bridges.

People like to have natural materials in their mouths,” said Tom Diekwisch, a dental researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago who is studying tooth regeneration in lab animals. “You would think that a tooth grown with your own tissues would be more compatible than foreign materials.”

Different teams are using different approaches. But the techniques generally involve directing immature stem cells to develop into tooth tissue.

For example, Sharpe plans to take stem cells from a patient, grow them in a laboratory, then implant them in the gum at the site of the missing tooth. The implant would take about two months to grow into a full tooth.

Perhaps the leading U.S. research team is headed by Pamela Yelick of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. Her team has used rat stem cells to grow well-formed crowns, with layers of enamel, dentin and pulp. Her team also has grown pig tooth crowns.

Growing whole teeth probably is at least 10 years away. What probably will come before that is repairing teeth by growing tissue. For example, rather than fixing cracked teeth with synthetic materials, dentists would grow new cells to fill the cracks.

“You could seamlessly repair something,” Yelick said. “It would be much stronger.”

It also might be possible to regenerate pulp inside the tooth, thereby eliminating the need for root canals.

The key to growing or regenerating teeth is coaxing stem cells to do the job. A stem cell is an unspecialized cell that can develop into a specialized cell.

Stem cell research is under way on many fronts. For example, researchers hope to coax stem cells to produce insulin for diabetics, regenerate heart muscle for cardiac patients or repair spinal cord injuries for paraplegics.

Some researchers are obtaining stem cells from human embryos, which opponents consider unethical because embryos are destroyed in the process. But the stem cells that would be used to grow or repair teeth would not come from embryos. They instead could be obtained from such sources as the patient’s mouth, jaw, blood or existing teeth. Some researchers prefer to use the term progenitor cells.

Although improved dental care is enabling more people to keep their teeth, tooth loss remains a huge problem. By age 44, nearly seven in 10 American adults have lost at least one tooth to decay or gum disease. And about one in four elderly adults have lost all of their teeth.

It costs anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 to replace a lost tooth with an implant or a bridge. Sharpe believes it might be cheaper to grow teeth.

“There is an economy of scale,” he said. “It is not much more expensive for us to make 10 teeth or one.”

31 thoughts on “Search on for Way to Grow New Teeth

  1. Anonymous says:

    please let this happen soon. As good as dental implants might be, they are not ‘the holy grail’. Imagine, associated bone and gums growing around the tooth….how brilliant is that?

  2. Anonymous says:

    It will be very interesting how the stem cells will be able to create different tipes of teeth:incisors,canines,premolars and etc.

  3. Dr. George Papadopoulos says:

    I would like to take part in the tests on human beings. Please let me know in the e mail address above.

  4. Thom says:

    I have 20 teeth damaged and I would like to pay and/or participate in this trial. Again, I am willing to pay for the treatment….20 x $3000= $60,000 for starters

  5. karen says:

    I’d like to be a test subject. Thanks to a quack of a dentist. Who thought it was easier to pull them all them all rather than fix them. He ruined my life!!!!

  6. Luis Baralt says:

    Though I’m 80 I’ve always had exceptionally good teet. I’ve ljust ‘dropped’ four of them in last couple of years, from mere girth abrassion; that is to say, the roots are still healthy and unextracted and give me no trouble. Is it possible to grow new teeth from those roots according to reported newly developed techniques? Am asking for no implants, involving root canal and such…

  7. Sami Haag says:

    Thank you for your researches about growing new teeth, well can I ask you when it will start on Humans? of course we can say, the Medical Sciences just started, this is the real science.
    When they start replace any Human organ with an original natural one.
    I knew that Proffesor Paul Sharpe is doing good researches from many years, where else? can they apply them on all animals or just rats? for example CATS.
    Best Regards

  8. Walter M says:

    Awesome!!! We cannot leave all the work to God, he gave us a brain and we should use it. Science is what brings humankind together and makes us better.

    They only need $5.2 million in funding to begging testing in humans within 3 years. Compare that to $10 Billion gone every month to fund the war in Iraq. What a shame and disgrace for the human race.

    I see 3 reasons why you will vote Republicans in 2008: 1st. You are Selfish, 2nd. You are Stupid and 3rd. You are both.

  9. Kai Foo Chow FDSRCS says:

    Meanwhile, lets be thankful for dental implants. Yes, the current holy grail in dental implantology is the tooth germ implant or MOTGI: Made to Order Tooth Germ Implant. However, Motgis will probably take at least another 10 years, maybe more. The hurdles involved are growing the toothgerm in the lab, twitching the genetic switches to develop the toothgerm into a canine, molar, premolar or incisor. Also, it has to be specific in left or right and in terms of size. Next, dentists have to be trained to place them and special surgical protocols have to be developed.

    Not easy, but nevertheless we must be reachfortheskyers and not playitsafers. Imitating the original is one hack of a job!

    Meanwhile, dental implants are already a vast leap forward to the moon. Motgis will be a quantum leap to Mars.


  10. Harold Lee says:

    I am 66 yrs old and in very good health. I am on a pension and ss and have only eight teeth left in my mouth. I have an upper denture and will soon need a lower one. I would love to be a test subject if one is needed.

    thank you
    ph# 573 769-3498

  11. Bill Schaeffer says:

    Ahhh, a researcher seeking investments for his project suggests a breakthrough might just be around the corner if only he had more funds……

    And just look at all the people queuing up to be a guinea pig for him to try his untested ideas out on.

    I think I’d like to make sure it was safe before having something “living” implanted into my body, but I guess someone’s got to be the first……

    Good luck to everyone involved.

    Bill Schaeffer

  12. someone says:

    Can we have an update on this situation? It looks like this article was posted nearly 5 years ago. I really need this to be soon.

  13. Rodrigo says:

    Ok, there is a lot of news about growing new teeth. But always takes to much time to be avaliable to the people. There are many researches but nothing to us. I was reading about the device LIPUS few months ago, but the news are old and what is there today? Nothing, they simply not comment about it anymore. It seems to be that the researches has stoped. Anyway, I hope something really good happens soon.

  14. Diane says:

    I hear a Dr in San Franscisco California setting up this process does anyone have any information on him?
    His name and number for the trials?

  15. Morten Brendefur says:

    Such a wonderful idea if it only works.
    If in need of a test person, then don’t hesitate contacting me.

    Best regards.

  16. Tone says:

    This guy’s out of the tooth growing game, last I heard. But other people have taken up the slack, including a Dr. Mao at Columbia University who grew a tooth in a rat. I wish they’d stop growing teeth in rodents and just get started on humans though.


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