Baby tooth stem cells and dental tissue regrowth

A joint US and Chinese clinical trial has successfully demonstrated dental tissue regrowth using stem cells from baby teeth. The Phase 1 trial suggests a promising solution to injury-caused tooth damage in children with young adult teeth.

Many children will suffer tooth injury at some stage, and unfortunately the trauma to immature adult teeth can lead to permanent damage. Injuries can hinder root development and blood supply, resulting in a “dead” tooth. The results in this clinical trial are the first of their kind to show that lost/damaged dental tissue can be replaced using stem cells.

This treatment gives patients sensation back in their teeth. If you give them a warm or cold stimulation, they can feel it; they have living teeth again…So far we have follow-up data for two, two and a half, even three years, and have shown it’s a safe and effective therapy.

Songtao Shi, University of Pennsylvania

This clinical trial, led by Songtao Shi, is the result of 10 years’ research into the healing potential of dental pulp stem cells, known as human deciduous pulp stem cells (hDPSC).

The trial was conducted on 40 children with injuries to young adult teeth. Dental pulp stem cells from a healthy baby tooth were cultured and reproduced in a lab, to be implanted into the injured teeth. The 30 children who received the hDPSC treatment showed signs of positive root development and thicker dentine and increased blood flow. This even led to slightly increased sensation in the injured teeth, one year post-transplant.

At the moment, the transplant can only be performed on children with stored milk tooth stem cells. Tests are just beginning for regrowing dental tissue in adults. However there’s no doubt that this is an exciting step towards a new routine therapy for children.