Not only are stem cells found throughout your bodies’ organs and tissue, but they are also found in your mouth.
Stem cells have many different roles, one of them being a type of repair system. They have the ability to divide forever thus replenishing the other cells for as long as you live. Even babies use their dental lamina to grow their primary teeth.
A stem cell divides into daughter cells, which can either stay a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialised function such as a brain cell, a red blood cell and even a muscle cell.
You get two different kinds of stem cells. One is called a pluripotent which can produce any type of cell in the body with the exception of the ones needed to support a fetus in the womb. The other is called multipotent and it can only give rise to small number of different cell types which include those for teeth.
The tooth is basically natures vault for these kinds of valuable cells. There are plenty present in babies teeth, wisdom teeth as well as in permanent teeth.
If you had to lose a tooth, you would have to get implants, but scientists are looking for alternative ways through tooth regeneration.
Can a tooth be re-grown?
There are a few animals that are able to regenerate. Lizards regenerate their tails after losing them, a star fish can develop multiple arms as well as legs, and sharks, after just one day of losing a tooth, grows another. A shark has 7 rows of replacement teeth, and has 40-45 teeth on average. A shark can go through 30000 teeth in their lifetime because of this conveyor belt type system.
An alligators teeth, which are very similar to a humans teeth, could hold some answers for dentists for easier tooth renewal. It has been found that an alligator can regenerate a lost tooth up to 50 times, and can grow new teeth in sets of 3. Now this is interesting, they have the adult teeth that are in there mouth and lying in wait is the baby teeth and if that is not enough, they still have a stem cell that can become a replacement tooth if necessary. So basically when an adult tooth falls out the baby tooth takes its place and the stem cell then becomes the baby one.
Dental pulp stem cells
In the centre of your tooth there is a soft centre which is living tissue called pulp. And in this pulp we have stem cells, which are multipotent and can become a variety of cell types.
It has been proven by different studies that the stem cells found in the teeth could be amongst the strongest in the human body. It has been shown that compared to that of stem cells found in other parts of the body, that the stem cells found in the teeth are able to replicate at a much faster rate and for longer periods of time.
Researchers at the Columbia University Medical centre have found that they can re-grow teeth by using stem cells from your mouth.
So, in the near future we hope that researchers and scientists will reveal solutions to improve the oral health of children as well as teenagers and adults.