Baby tooth stem cells could regrow kids' dental tissue

Children might never have to grow up with 'dead' teeth again.

If you injure a tooth as a kid, there's a real chance you'll grow up with a 'dead' tooth whose roots didn't grow properly due to tissue damage. However, scientists have conducted a successful trial for a method that could regrow kids' dental tissue using stem cells from their baby teeth. The team extracted human deciduous pulp stem cells (hDPSC) from patients' healthy baby teeth, allowed the cells to reproduce in a lab culture, and implanted them in the injured teeth. A year later, enough healthy tissue had regrown that the kids could feel at least some sensations, such as hot or cold.

The stem cell-based treatment produced all the necessary ingredients for tissue, and there weren't any worries about immune system rejection. Patients who went through conventional treatment (which only encourages root development with the tissue that's left) didn't regain any feeling.

It could still take a while before your little ones can rest easier. The trial took place in China, and the researchers are still in the planning stages for FDA-approved trials in the US. And to no one's surprise, this method doesn't work for adults. You'd need donated stem cells, and the tests for that are only beginning.

Even so, the potential is huge for any kid who has ever tumbled face-first. There are uses beyond reviving dead teeth,too. The technique could be used to treat systemic diseases like lupus, so it could improve health across the board.