Recent exciting, new discoveries place Dentists at the forefront
of helping their patients benefit from potentially life-saving therapies
derived from a patient's own stem cells obtained from deciduous
teeth, third molars and permanent teeth.
Stem cells are immature, undifferentiated cells that can divide, multiply and
differentiate into specific types of cells and tissues. There are two types of
stem cells: adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells. Different types of adult
stem cells have been identified in many tissues and organs in the human body.
Until recently, researchers believed that stem cells could only give rise to
cells related to tissues and organs in their immediate surroundings. However,
a number of recent studies show that stem cells from one area of the body may
be manipulated to grow into cell types of a completely different tissue. This
ability is called "transdifferentiation" or "plasticity," and
different types of adult stem cells have this ability in varying degrees.
Adult stem cells in dental pulp are a recent discovery, they are undifferentiated
mesenchymal stem cells, which appear to have greater plasticity than other adult
stem cell types. Dental stem cells, like other mesenchymal stem cells, can transdifferentiate
into cardiac muscle cells and skeletal muscle cells, suggesting an important
future role in muscle repair and regeneration. Adult stem cells in dental
pulp are easily obtained from primary and permanent teeth.