The science of tissue engineering aims at the repair of damaged tissues as well as creates replacement of the lost ones. This is becoming a major component of the regenerative medicine by combining the principles of transplantation, materials science and bioengineering to restore a diseased or a damaged tissue to normal function. The earliest attempts at tissue replacement thousands of years back involved teeth and even in modern times, dentistry has continued to place considerable emphasis on the study and use of biocompatible materials.
For most of the general dental practitioners restoration of lost tooth tissue, whether from disease or trauma, represents a significant proportion of their daily routine. Considering the current prevalence of the dental diseases, it can be said that the challenge and resource burden of restoring lost tooth tissue will be with us for many years to come. Tissue engineering will have a considerable effect on dental practice during the next coming years. The greatest effects will likely be related to the repair and replacement of mineralized tissues, the promotion of oral wound healing, correction of craniofacial abnormalities, integration of biocompatible prosthetic implant materials with the oral tissues, the regeneration of dental hard and soft tissues and the use of gene transfer adjunctively.
The purpose of this brief review is to provide the general dental practitioner a background of tissue engineering, its accomplishments in dentistry and its future promises to the profession in the form of regenerative dentistry.