What are Dental Pulp Stem Cells?
The soft living tissue inside the tooth is known as dental pulp. Stem cells present here are named as Dental Pulp Stem Cells or (DPSCs). These are pluripotent stem cells that have the potential to differentiate into a variety of cell types.
Where are DPSCs found?
The best Dental Pulp Stem Cells are present in baby teeth or milk teeth, especially in the upper and lower canines and incisors. Research has shown stem cell are also present in wisdom tooth of young adults.
Stem cells from the milk teeth are ‘mesenchymal’ type of cells. They have the ability to differentiate into variety of cell types including – chondrocytes, osteoblasts and adipocytes.
What are the potential uses of Dental Stem Cells?
Dental stem cells play a vital role in regenerative stem cell therapy of many degenerative and life threatening conditions. Depending on the type of differentiated cell type, they have a wide range of potential therapeutic application.
Cardio Myocytes: Aid to repair damaged cardiac tissue following a heart attack.
Neuronal: Generate nerve and brain tissue.
Myocytes: Repair muscle tissue.
Osteocytes: They have the ability to generate bone.
Chondrocytes: They have the ability to generate cartilage, which would have an important role in the treatment of arthritis and joint injuries.
Adipocytes: Generate fat tissue.
Thus the dental stem cells can generate hard structures of the body such as bone, new dental tissue, cartilage and muscle.
What is stem cell harvesting?
The process of collection and preservation of stem cell is known as stem cell harvesting. The dental stem cells are frozen and stored at a stem cell bank, with appropriate labeling, using cryopreservation technology to maintain their viability, on retrieval in future.
Collection – A Dentist extracts the tooth packs it in a dental sampling kit and sends it to laboratory facility for further processing.
Isolation – The dental pulp, containing the stem cells is isolated by breaking open the tooth and the stem cells are extracted. These stem cells are tested for sterility and quality control (assessment of the viability of the stem cells).
Cryopreservation – If the stem cells pass the viability assessment, they will be stored cryogenically. The dental stem cells are frozen by keeping the levy at a temperature of -150 ° C (-238 F) in liquid nitrogen.
What is unique about Dental stem cell banking?
Dental pulp stem cell banking has the following advantages which are one of its kind:
- The time period for banking healthy dental stem cells is wide, since it can be done for children in the age group of 5-12 years and also for adults whose wisdom tooth is to be extracted.
- The collection of stem cells from the pulp of the tooth is easy, painless, quick, highly efficient, with no ethical complications, as it involves a simple process of extraction of the tooth.
- Dental stem cells are non-controversial adult stem cells, unlike embryonic stem cells, the source of which involves ethical issues.
- The dental stem cells have demonstrated interactivity with biomaterials, making them ideal for tissue reconstruction.