New Teeth Grown with Stem Cells from Urine

First Posted: Jul 30, 2013 08:55 AM EDT

A healthy smile doesn't just look nice. It says so much about your overall physical health. Swollen, red and bleeding gums can lead to signs of gingivitis, which can cause chronic inflammation, infection and permanent bone loss and tooth loss down the road. Hence why your dentist is always handing out free tooth brushes at the end of every visit or your mom is pestering you about flossing and rinsing before bed.

Well, you should listen. According to the World Health Organization, while nearly 100 percent of adults (and 60 to 90 percent of children) have dental cavities, poor dental cleaning habits can lead to severe periodontal disease later in life, including tooth, gum and bone lose.

Fortunately,researchers from the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health (China) have possibly found a temporary answer for those who have already missed out on the memo to properly brush and floss. They've created stem cells to make rudimentary forms of human teeth, only not in the most pleasant way. They derived stem cells in this new experiment from human urine.

According to the study, researchers turned these cells into stem cells that are normally passed from the body, including those from the lining of the body's urine. They then coaxed the cells into their proper forms as they would later be implanted in mice for further study.

The cells grew into a bundle of cells that resembled a tooth after three weeks, containing dental pulp, dentin, enamel space and enamel organ. However, study authors note that the specimens were not as hard as regular teeth.

However, many are skeptical of these findings.

"It is probably one of the worst sources, there are very few cells in the first place and the efficiency of turning them into stem cells is very low," said Prof Chris Mason, a stem cell scientist at University College London via the BBC, who said urine was a poor starting point. "You just wouldn't do it in this way."

He also believes that there is a high risk of bacterial contamination using urine to create the cells.

Teeth made out of stem cells derived from urine? What do you think? 

More information regarding the study can be found in Cell Regeneration Journal.

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