If you were a Lake Malawi cichlid, you would never need dentures because you could just keep regenerating teeth. For humans, it doesn’t work that way yet. But could research someday provide us a way to regenerate our own teeth? That’s what researchers from the King’s College in London and the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta are trying to figure out.
According to Georgia Tech School of Biology Professor Todd Streelman, their research team has “uncovered developmental plasticity between teeth and taste buds” and are trying to identify factors that allow the fish to regenerate teeth indefinitely instead of stopping after two sets as humans do.
The study involved cross-breeding these fish according to the combined formations of their teeth and tastebuds. This is allowing the researchers to identify specific markers associated with the growth and regeneration of teeth. The researchers were “able to map the areas of the genome” involving growth of teeth and tastebuds. Experiments in London isolated specific genes that are involved in the growth of teeth and tastebuds in mice.
The researchers then manipulated fish embryos to produce varying structures of both teeth and tastebuds. While this doesn’t yet prove the possibility of tooth regeneration, the researchers feel that the evidence suggests a higher degree of plasticity in the epithelium than was previously thought possible.
The next step in research is to try and genetically manipulate the epithelium in the direction of tooth regeneration.
For Now: Dentures are Still Necessary
Sadly, if there are advances, they are probably not going to happen soon. However, the good news is that it is safer, easier and more comfortable than ever to get dentures. At Candlewood Dental Centre, we can provide you with a new smile for a lot less time, money and hassle than you may think.
If you have missing teeth that have caused the rest of your teeth to go crooked and you would like to have a better smile, dentures are the quickest, least expensive way to go about it.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, we encourage you to discuss these matters with an appropriately qualified health practitioner.