Many of the technologies we talk about here are in the early investigational stages, which is exciting, but it’s also exciting to see technologies actually being implemented. That’s what’s happening with stem cell technology, which researchers report has been used to help regrow a woman’s jawbone so that she could receive dental implants. As part of a larger clinical trial, this report shows the level of care that may become standard in the very near future.

Trauma Leads to Severe Jawbone Loss

In this case, the patient was a 45-year-old woman who had suffered serious facial trauma five years earlier. She had lost seven of her front teeth and 75% of the bone that once supported them. The press release doesn’t note whether the bone loss was from the initial trauma or because of resorption after the fact. The woman had poor jaw function, and she was unhappy with her appearance. Although dental implants would have been desirable for her, she was unable to get them because of the bone loss.

Building on a Scaffold

With such large bone loss, it was impossible to use conventional grafting techniques, or even the more common stem cell techniques. Instead, they needed a scaffold that would support the stem cells, allowing them to grow into the desired shape, but that would then be capable of dissolving. About 30 minutes before being placed into the patient’s mouth, the shaped scaffold was seeded with a mixture of stem and progenitor cells. Stem cells are cells capable of becoming any body tissue, while progenitor cells are already disposed toward becoming bone. All cells were taken from the patient’s own bone marrow.

After four months 80% of the lost bone had been restored. That translates to 60% of the original bone, meaning she had about 85% of her original bone, which was considered adequate to support the dental implants. 

Six months after the implants were placed, an implant denture was placed in the mouth.

More People Can Get Dental Implants Than Ever

The exciting thing about this discovery is that it means people who couldn’t get dental implants before will now be able to. We look forward to being able to help even more patients, and remind you that the state of the art for dental implants is constantly improving.

If you’ve been told in the past you didn’t qualify for dental implants, there’s no time like the present to get a second opinion. Please call (949) 551-5902 for an appointment with an Orange County implant dentist at Rice Dentistry in Irvine.