The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the feasibility of whole-tooth regeneration using a tooth germ-like construct. Dental pulp from upper incisors, canines, premolars, and molars were extracted from sexually mature miniature pigs. Pulp tissues were cultured and expanded in vitro to obtain dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs), and cells were differentiated into odontoblasts and osteoblasts. Epithelial cells were isolated from gingival epithelium. The epithelial cells, odontoblasts, and osteoblasts were seeded onto the surface, upper, and lower layers, respectively, of a bioactive scaffold. The lower first and second molar tooth germs were removed bilaterally and the layered cell/scaffold constructs were transplanted to the mandibular alveolar socket of a pig. At 13.5 months postimplantation, seven of eight pigs developed two teeth with crown, root, and pulp structures. Enamel-like tissues, dentin, cementum, odontoblasts, and periodontal tissues were found upon histological inspection. The regenerated tooth expressed dentin matrix protein-1 and osteopontin. All pigs had regenerated molar teeth regardless of the original tooth used to procure the DPSCs. Pigs that had tooth germs removed or who received empty scaffolds did not develop teeth. Although periodontal ligaments were generated, ankylosis was found in some animals. This study revealed that implantation of a tooth germ-like structure generated a complete tooth with a high success rate. The implant location may influence the morphology of the regenerated tooth.
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