Songtao Shi, DDS, PhD, at the USC School of Dentistry, has successfully regenerated tooth root and supporting periodontal ligaments to restore tooth function in a swine model. The breakthrough holds significant promise of clinical application in human patients.

Using stem cells harvested from the extracted wisdom teeth of 18- to 20-year olds, Shi and his colleagues created root and ligament structures to support a crown restoration in their animal model. The resulting tooth restoration closely resembled the original tooth in function and strength. The technique relies on stem cells harvested from the root apical papilla, which is responsible for the development of a tooth’s root and periodontal ligament.

“The apical papilla provides better stem cells for root structure regeneration,” says Shi. “With this technique, the strength of the tooth restoration is not quite as strong as the original tooth, but we believe it is sufficient to withstand normal wear and tear.”

Shi hopes that the technique will help dental patients who are not appropriate candidates for dental implant therapy or would prefer living tissue derived from their own teeth.
[Medical News Today, December 28, 2006]