Many of you likely don’t know this about me: I used to want to be a dentist. From kindergarten through grade six, it was one career that I always wrote in the Schooldays Treasures book my mom put together. I think a big part of the reason I wanted to be a dentist was because my mom was afraid of them, and I always thought that if I became one, I could be her dentist and she wouldn’t have to be afraid anymore. It also helped that I had a fascination with the idea of little bones growing from people’s mouths and that the career made big money.
I never ended up becoming a Long Beach dentist, as an introduction to personal computers swayed the direction of my career, but my interest in the field has continued.
I have been reading about technologies and techniques to replace missing or damaged teeth for years now, and am frustrated at the lack of real world applications for these technologies as of yet. I am not a conspiracy theorist type personality, but having read about things being developed for almost twenty years now with no commercial implementation leads me to believe it is either much harder than we thought or that there is an industry that doesn’t want these kind of technologies to become commonplace.
Anyways, that’s neither here nor there. I’ve always been interested in the idea that other animals, such as sharks and alligators, had the ability to regrow more than just two sets of teeth. I felt it strange that we were limited to just the baby teeth and adult teeth sets, and knew that if we could, somehow, inject some kind of genetic reset, we could grow another full set of adult teeth.
Sure, it would hurt and be uncomfortable. They might need braces and fillings over time, but with humans living longer than ever before, I really feel like it is time for this technology to mature as a replacement to implants and other fake teeth that don’t work as well as needed. Surely on a macro scale the dental implant costs are bigger in the long run.
I couldn’t find the article, but I feel like in the late 90’s there was an article in Popular Science about regrowing teeth that inspired this fascination. I’ve pulled up as many articles on regrowing teeth that I could find on Popular Science, and it goes back to 2004 with an article entitled, Bad Tooth? Grow Another. For now, it seems that a dental implant is still the best replacement for missing tooth…
Here are all of the articles from Popular Science that I could find about the subject:
- May 8, 2004 – Bad Tooth? Grow Another
- August 4, 2009 – Stem Cells Used to Grow a New Tooth Inside a Mouse’s Mouth
- May 25, 2010 – Stem-cell Dental Implants Grow New Teeth Right in Your Mouth
- July 13, 2011 – Mice Molars Grown from Stem Cells Form Fully Functional, Transplantable Teeth
- August 24, 2011 – Painless Protein Scaffold Lets Cavity-ridden Teeth Re-grow From the Inside Out
- May 7, 2012 – Nanocomposite Cavity Filler Reverses Decay, Killing Bacteria and Regenerating Tooth Structure
- May 15, 2013 – Dentists Study Alligators to Figure Out How Humans Could Regrow Teeth
- July 12, 2013 – Humans May Evolve to Grow an Endless Supply of Teeth
Is this ever going to come to a dentist’s office? Sure, much of this content is from the last five or so years, but if I’m right, and some of this research started in the late nineties, it feels like the progress being made in this field is a little slow. Lastly, you would think that with Baby Boomers getting older, a replacement for dentures would be one of their top priorities…