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Could human urine be the answer to replacing lost teeth?

Groundbreaking science with strange repercussions for those dreaded appointments at the dentist!

 

Yes, dear Roar! readers, you read that correctly. Scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Guangzhou, China has successfully grown teeth inside mouse kidneys by using human urine as a source of stem cells. In simple words, stem cells are unspecialised cells or master cells that have the ability to differentiate into any cell type. Now you must be wondering how these scientists managed to grow teeth from urine, so here is a description of what they did!

First of all, scientists extracted stem cells from human urine. These stem cells were then left in culture and allowed to develop into dental epithelial tissue.  This tissue was mixed with connective tissue cells from a mouse and left to grow for two days. The scientists implanted this mass of cells just under the outer layer of a mouse’s kidney. Then, the magic happened: the stem cells differentiated into the shiny enamel (which is the outer white covering of the teeth), while other tooth structures such as blood vessels developed from the mouse’s connective tissue cells.

This seems like a perfect recipe to grow new teeth, but not quite. Scientists working on this realised that the teeth they grew were a bit softer than real teeth, the cause being lack of physical stimulation in the mouse kidneys. If the teeth were grown in the mouth, they would have been stronger because of all the physical stimulations or movements present there.

When the scientists were asked why they had used urine as the source of stem cells out of all other sources, their simple answer was that human urine was the most convenient source. So maybe in the future, this teeth growing technique might be perfected and offered at our local dental practice. The question is, would we be comfortable with having teeth replaced using our own urine? Or would it be a choice between titanium dental implants or natural teeth? Who knows! But we don’t really need to worry about it right now. Further research on this subject would take years and hopefully, by the time our generation needs teeth replacement, scientists might have found a better source of stem cells!

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