Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have shown that they can anchor teeth back in the jaw using adult stem cells. The technique could be widely applicable for replanting teeth lost through gum disease or an accident.

The scientists used adult stem cells obtained from the periodontal ligament of molars extracted from mice. The cells were grown in culture and then seeded onto clean rat molars, then the molars were placed into the tooth sockets of rats. After two to four months, the stem cells aligned and formed new fibrous attachments between the tooth and bone, firmly attaching the replanted tooth into the animal's mouth. Molars that were replanted without adult stem cells were either lost or loosely attached and were reabsorbed by the jaw.

According to senior author Thomas Diekwisch:

"Our strategy could be used for replanting teeth that were lost due to trauma or as a novel approach for tooth replacement using tooth-shaped replicas."

The study was published recently in the journal Tissue Engineering