You only get one set of permanent teeth. You can take care of them by brushing and flossing twice a day and having two professional dental cleanings per year. Unfortunately, you can’t always prevent injuries that damage or knock out your teeth. Now, imagine if you had the ability to regrow lost or damaged teeth. Alligators, one of the world’s most formidable hunters can do just that.
As predators that rely largely on their jaws and teeth to bring down dinner, alligators frequently lose or break their teeth. These powerful animals can live between 35 and 75 years, so they need their toothy grins to last a long time. Fortunately for them, they can regrow any of their 80 teeth up to 50 times over their lifespans.
In May 2013, a team of researchersset out to discover what gave alligators their advantageous ability. They x-rayed the teeth of hatchlings and 3-year old juveniles of the American Alligator species to unravel the mystery. The team found that once an alligator loses a tooth, the dental lamina (a band of tissue associated with tooth formation) begins to bulge. The bulge triggers stem cells and other molecules to initiate the growth of a new tooth.
Many mammals have a dental lamina, including humans. Once your permanent teeth develop, the dental lamina typically deactivates. Some studies have associated hyperactivation of this tissue band with the development of superprimary teeth (extra teeth developing in front of or behind permanent teeth). With future research, scientists will hopefully discover how to control the reactivation of the dental lamina in humans and regrow teeth naturally.
Scientists might already by on the right track. In May 2014, a team of Harvard-led researchers demonstrated that low-power light could activate stem cells in your teeth in order to encourage them to repair themselves. Researchers activated dental stem cells with low-power lasers in order to form dentin, the layer of hard tissue just under the enamel. They used rodent models with tooth damage, who showed a regrowth of dentin to repair the tooth structure after the use of low-power lasers.
Lasers produced a slightly different dentin than what the rodents naturally produced, but these results still shows great promise for restorative dentistry. If low-power lasers prove useful in repairing teeth in human clinical trials, dentists could eventually use them to activate the dental lamina in order to grow a whole new tooth for patients.
Although the possibility of tooth regeneration is exciting, research still has a long way to go before it can safely and effectively work its way into dental practice. You don’t have to wait until you can join the alligator in tooth regeneration, however. Cosmetic dentistry can effectively repair your smile. If an accident or heavy wear has left you with one or more gaps in your smile, dental implants can replace your missing teeth to not only restore your looks, but also protect the exposed gum tissue. These restorations look and function like normal teeth, and prevent your other teeth from shifting over.
Your chipped, cracked, or broken teeth can be repaired with the use of porcelain dental crowns. These durable crowns will protect the remaining tooth from further damage. For mildly chipped front teeth, porcelain veneers can protect the damaged tooth and restore the aesthetics of your smile. Porcelain crowns, implants, and veneers are carefully color-matched with the rest of your teeth so that they appear natural.
If you want to learn more about restoring your smile with cosmetic dentistry, please call 509-368-7788 for an appointment at Collins Dentistry & Aesthetics in Spokane.
Or office in Spokane is located at:
3151 E. 28th Ave.
Spokane, WA 99223
Office phone # 509-368-7788