It sounds like something straight out of the pages of a science fiction novel: humans regrowing their teeth just like sharks and other fish. Unlike us land mammals our water-borne cousins have the capability of growing tooth after tooth in case of injury or loss, something we’re only able to do a single time.
How in the world could you actually start regrowing your own teeth? A British research team has apparently uncovered the genetic link – the first step in making our teeth endlessly regenerate whenever we need them to. As most Florida residents know, sharks are a force to be reckoned with – now imagine shedding your teeth just like those fearsome beasts!
Sharks And Humans: We Have Something In Common
Somewhere down the evolutionary chain is a species that is an evolutionary cousin of both humans and sharks. That ancestor probably had the ability to regrow its teeth, an ability we eventually lost as we evolved away from our fishy friends.
But think about it: we still lose one set of teeth, so the genes that enable us to regrow ours are definitely present. There’s simply been some change in the past 450 million years that shuts those genes off after we shed our baby teeth.
Scientists interested in this link found something interesting: the gene that constantly replaces teeth in sharks is the exact same one that enables us to grow our adult set. If we wanted to have a constantly refreshed supply of backup teeth all we’d need is a way to reactivate that gene once it shut off!
That, of course, is the tricky part. We’re nowhere near the point in our scientific knowledge where we can simply flip a switch and grow new teeth. For now you’ll have to be satisfied with the next best thing: dental implants.
Implants: Just Like Growing New Teeth
Until science catches up with the human predilection for losing teeth we’re stuck trying to find artificial ways to replace them. Thankfully dentistry has advanced to the point where single tooth replacement using implants is just as good as the real thing!
Dental implants are titanium screws that are the same size as a natural tooth root. They are placed in your jaw right where a missing tooth was, and once they heal they’re as tough as the real deal. Implants are capped with an abutment and a crown that is designed just for your mouth, and the end result is a perfect looking, perfect functioning, and permanent new tooth.
Before dental implants became the go-to tooth replacement method we had to use bridges. While they work just fine there’s a few problems that bridges have which are eliminated by dental implants, making them the clearly superior choice.
- Bridges are made of two crowns attached to a false tooth. In order to fill the gap left by that missing tooth we have to grind down to perfectly healthy teeth to put them under crowns. We’d much rather leave healthy teeth alone!
- The false tooth of a bridge doesn’t have a root – it simply sits on top of your gums. When you lose teeth the bone that held it slowly recedes, resulting in additional tooth instability. Bridges don’t solve that problem!
- Continued bone loss can lead to a gap between the false tooth and your gumline. This looks bad and requires a whole new bridge to correct. It also increases the chance of losing those neighboring teeth!
Implants, unlike bridges, prevent bone loss, firmly anchor to your jaw, and don’t need to be worried about at all. As long as you care for your dental implants just like a natural tooth you’ll be able to keep it in perfect condition without any cause for concern.
The Future Isn’t Here Yet …
… but it’s getting closer all the time. We’re looking forward to the day that we can simply guide a new tooth into place when one is lost due to trauma, decay, or gum disease. Until we get there, however, we’ll keep on placing state-of-the-art dental implants at Overmeyer Family Dental.
If you want to find out all about the next best thing to regrowing a natural tooth we’re always here to answer your questions! You can contact our Orlando dentist office by phone at 407-603-3839 or you can request an appointment here online. Don’t hesitate to contact us regarding any of your dental care needs!