You are here

Health, Scientific progress

06 - 05 - 2015

The mystery of self-healing teeth

Teeth can naturally repair lesions thanks to stem cells. Researchers have identified in mice the underlying mechanism that could be used to revolutionize dentistry. 


Self-repairing teeth


Teeth are mineralized organs but are still alive. Indeed, the dental pulp at the centre of the tooth is composed of vessels and nerves that are protected by ivory and enamel. However, this barrier can be breached, in the event of cavities or injuries. When a dental lesion occurs, the tooth defends itself through dormant stem cells present in the pulp that wake up and try to repair the damage.






Researchers have extracted and isolated the stem cells from the mouse molar pulp to identify and understand the natural defence mechanism of the tooth. They identified stem cell receptors responsive to dopamine and serotonin. They also discovered that blood platelets activated by the dental lesion release these neurotransmitters. These activate the stem cells that initiate the repair. 


Stimulating a natural repair system, a new therapy 


The next step is to identify the stem cells in the human teeth, isolate them and use them to stimulate the natural repair system of teeth. 


« Our results allow us to consider unprecedented therapeutic strategies aiming at mobilizing stem cells in the pulp in order to amplify the natural self-healing power of teeth without the use of substitute materials," concludes Odile Kellermann, head of the INSERM and University Paris Descartes teams and lead author of the study.