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Scientists inching toward stem cell therapies for dental patients


Traumatic mouth injuries, which can result from incidents like car accidents or falls, often end in with some form of oral reconstructive surgery. In most cases, patients receive artificial crowns or entire teeth to replace the ones lost, but this exposes them to the risk of infection caused by the body’s natural immune response to foreign objects. A new study conducted by a group of education facilities and led by the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, however, may have opened a door to an effective and groundbreaking treatment method: stem cell bone regeneration.

In an experiment conducted by University of Michigan researchers, medical professionals administered a cell type known as ixmyelocel-T, which is part of the body’s tissue repair mechanism. While the initial results have not be substantiated by further trials, those associated with the test were quoted as being extremely positive in a recent press release from the university.

“In patients with jawbone deficiencies who also have missing teeth, it is very difficult to replace the missing teeth so that they look and function naturally,” Darnell Kaigler, principal investigator for the experiment, said in the release. “This technology and approach could potentially be used to restore areas of bone loss so that missing teeth can be replaced with dental implants.”

The procedure, according to a brief video posted by the School of Dentistry on its website, involves placing a medically-cleansed swab treated with the stem cell solution into the impacted area of the patient’s mouth. During a 12-week observation period, researchers noted that those who received the experimental treatment showed faster bone and tissue redevelopment than those who received traditional bone regeneration therapy.

While the group of scientists conceded that this style of oral care is at least a decade away from commercial development, it heralds an exciting and innovative future for effective dental care. However, everyday people shouldn’t rely on experimental treatments to cure their oral illnesses. Consistent brushing, flossing and visits to the family dentist remain essential.