Scientists and dentists alike have marvelled at the ability of some animals – mainly sharks –to regrow individual teeth as soon as they lose one. Humans, along with every other mammal, lost that ability and only retained two sets of teeth. But, what if researchers found a way to turn back the evolutionary clock and gave us back that ability?
No More Permanent Teeth
Scientists are currently studying the embryonic development of the cichlid, a small fish found in Lake Malawi, which can also regrow its teeth. Unlike shark embryos, these fish are easier to cultivate and observe in a controlled laboratory setting.
Several researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and King’s College in London published their latest findings in the early edition of the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences.
The study is being conducted with another work attempting to record the dental differentiation in mice. Current results show that the process responsible for growing new teeth may remain active longer than previously thought. If confirmed, it could mean that the capability of growing teeth can be reactivated in human adults.
Tooth Loss Dangers
According to statistics, nearly 60% of the working population have lost one or two teeth once they reach the age of 60. If these patients do not receive the dental attention that they need, they can suffer through painful health issues and nutritional problems that can shorten their lives. These are the kinds of situations that can be avoided if humans can grow back teeth.
Some researchers caution that growing teeth, however, would not be enough as scientists will still need to learn how the pertinent nerves and blood vessels grow into the teeth. But, the first step still remains determining how far into adulthood the plasticity of teeth and taste bud cells extend.
If these kinds of studies continue getting support humans growing more teeth may not stay in the realm of science fiction for long. If you want to keep learning about the latest developments in the dental world, or want to see the status of your own dental health set an appointment with us today. We love talking to our patients about our craft, and want to share our knowledge with as many people as possible.