Yesterday, we learned all about the mandible’s shape and size change throughout different cultures. We saw that conditions like missing teeth and periodontal disease can lead to bone loss in the jaw. Today, we’ll learn how that bone loss may be addressed.
Printing New Organs for Transplant Patients
You’ve probably heard of 3D printers and how just about anything can be made with them. In July of this year, a 3D printer made the structure for the world’s first synthetic organ transplant. The patient had an inoperable tumor blocking his trachea and a transplant was the only option. An international team of scientists used a 3D scan of the patient’s trachea to create a porous scaffold that was then soaked in the patient’s own stem cells. In just two days, the scaffold was completely seeded and the new trachea was ready to be placed. Since the cells came from the patient, there is no chance of transplant rejection.
The Future of Bone Grafts
Using a similar 3D printer, researchers at Washington State University have seeded an artificial scaffold with human bone cells to create replacement bone tissue. So far, this synthetic bone has only been used in the laboratory and in rat and rabbit studies. In the next few years, though, researchers predict patients who would normally need bone grafts or transplants will be able to get synthetic bone made from their own cells. As with the trachea transplant, the scaffold ultimately dissolves, leaving only living tissue behind.
What does this mean for patients with jawbone loss? Currently, grafts of bone tissue from the patient’s own body are the only way for bones to regenerate with full functionality. This tissue is usually taken from the patient’s pelvis or chin. Dental bone grafts, taken to replace mandibular loss caused by missing teeth, are the most common type.
The best option is always prompt treatment to stop bone loss before it starts. Waiting to see your dentist for a missing tooth or gum disease means more costly and invasive surgery is necessary. Don’t delay—contact us today at (847) 234-0517 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Fondriest. We serve patients in Chicago’s North Shore area.