News Release

Growing replacement teeth and dental tissues

A translational vision

Peer-Reviewed Publication

International Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA--The restoration of lost tooth tissue, whether from disease or trauma, represents a significant proportion of the daily routine for many practicing clinicians. The challenge and resource burden of restoring lost tooth tissue will be with us for many years to come.

Two reports in the July issue of the Journal of Dental Research highlight exciting advances in moving toward the tissue engineering of teeth. At The Forsyth Institute (Boston, MA), Pamela Yelick and colleagues have seeded cultured tooth germ cells on biodegradable scaffolds which were then implanted to bioengineer tooth tissues, while in London (UK), Paul Sharpe's group has been able to generate tooth structures from non-dental mesenchymal cells placed in contact with embryonic oral epithelium and transplanted to an ectopic site.

The latter report is pivotal in that it demonstrates that uncommitted mesenchymal stem cells, in association with oral epithelium, can be instructed to mimic developmental events leading to growth of a tooth structure comprised of enamel, dentin, and pulp, with a morphology resembling that of a natural tooth. These observations offer very exciting opportunities for replacement of natural teeth damaged through disease or trauma and for those missing in hypodontia. There are obvious practical obstacles still to be overcome before this might be available as a routine clinical treatment, but it provides an elegant example of the translation of basic science research to the clinical arena.

There are also significant opportunities in the shorter term to exploit this knowledge for the development of novel regenerative therapies which seek to restore partial tooth tissue loss. Such approaches provide potential for restoration of the structural integrity of the dental tissues where the new tissues become an integral part of the tooth, thus minimizing some of the problems of restoration failure with traditional dental materials through interface failure and bacterial microleakage, etc.

Clearly, the future for regenerative and tissue-engineering applications to dentistry is one with immense potential, capable of bringing quantum advances in treatment for our patients. The need for high-quality research in the basic sciences is paramount to ensuring that the development of novel clinical treatment modalities is underpinned by robust mechanistic data, and that such approaches are effective. This translational model epitomizes how dentistry should evolve and highlights the need for close partnerships between basic and clinical scientists.


The Journal of Dental Research (est. 1919) is the most-cited dental journal in the world and is the flagship publication of the International Association for Dental Research, established in 1920 to promote research in all aspects of oral and related sciences, to encourage development of improved methods for prevention and treatment of oral and dental diseases, and to facilitate cooperation among investigators and communication of research findings and their implications throughout the world. The IADR, a non-profit organization, has over 11,000 active individual members and over 100 institutional members worldwide.

The papers will be available online at 12 Noon, Pacific Daylight Time, Thursday, June 24 (

FOR RELEASE: (00.31 British Summer Time, Thursday, June 24)

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