A shark can regrow missing teeth in a matter of weeks so why can’t humans do the same? This is the question that scientists are asking and the answer would appear to lie in stem cell research. Currently, a missing tooth can be replaced by a dental implant but that may soon be bettered by growing a completely new and natural tooth.
New and Natural
Our first set of teeth is usually lost by the time we are teenagers and the second set is meant to last the rest of our lives. However, this is rarely the case and the dentist will be called upon at some point to replace a missing or damaged tooth.
This may all change in the near future if stem cell research into tooth replacement progresses as expected. Stem cells have the ability to change into every cell in the body and this includes stem cells found in teeth. These cells can fully replicate a damaged tooth and scientists have already replaced teeth in mice and rats.
Although stem cells are compatible with the host body, the chance of rejection remains the biggest obstacle to overcome. Research continues and recent studies have shown positive results in avoiding rejection.
In the not-too-distant future, it is extremely likely that extractions at the dentist will be the exception rather than the norm and re-growing missing teeth a realistic alternative.