A relatively recent addition to the stem cell family and holding promise as an easily obtained source of adult stem cells, dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) were discovered at the beginning of this decade (Gronthos et al., 2000). DPSCs, also known as SHED cells (stem cells harvested from exfoliated deciduous teeth (Miura et al., 2003)), are one of the few discovered stem cells available from a naturally molted human tissue.
Dental pulp, which is living tissue at the center of the tooth made up of cells called “odontoblasts,” contains the aptly-named DPSCs. DPSCs were originally identified as being able to produce odontoblast-like cells as well as a tissue similar to dentin, which normally surrounds and protects the dental pulp (Gronthos et al., 2000; 2002). Although these studies found DPSCs able to produce two of the primary components of teeth, pulp and dentin, studies have not reported that DPSCs are able to create the other two factors, which are enamel and cementum (Cate, 1998).