Many individuals with ongoing and severe dental problems are faced with the prospect of permanent tooth loss. Examples of such dental problems include: dentinal degradation due to chronic dental disease (caries or periodontal); mouth injury; or through surgical removal, such as with tumors associated with the jaw. For many, a technology that offers a possible alternative to artificial dentures by designing and transplanting a set of living teeth fashioned from an individual's own pulp cells would greatly improve their quality of life.
The NIH announces a new technology wherein human postnatal deciduous dental pulp stem cells commonly known as "baby teeth", are used to create dentin and have been shown to differentiate into cells of specialized function such as neural cells, adipocytes, and odontoblasts. It is believed that these cells could be manipulated to repair damaged teeth, induce the regeneration of bone, and treat neural injury or disease.