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Researchers put some teeth into growing a tooth

You know that dream where all your teeth fall out? Well, someday it may not feel like such a nightmare as science moves closer to growing a tooth.

Researchers at the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Helsinki in Finland have identified a marker for dental stem cells in mice studies. Mice incisors, or front teeth, grow throughout life thanks to stem cells at the base of these teeth.

Human teeth don’t grow continuously, but the discovery of the marker, called transcription factor SOX2, in mice dental stem cells provides an excellent model for studying human dental stem cells. The mechanisms that control and regulate tooth growth in humans is similar to those in mice teeth.

The study’s authors are optimistic that their discovery could lead to the development of a bioengineered tooth, which may make it possible someday to replace lost teeth with ones grown from stem cells.

The American Dental Association has resources on diseases and conditions affecting the oral cavity, which can lead to tooth loss, and advice for caring for teeth on its consumer resource site MouthHealthy.org.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

8/08/2012

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