One of the things that makes dental care so important is the limited nature of mouth tissues and structures. When it comes to our mouths, typically we only get two sets of teeth, and if our adult teeth have cavities or are otherwise damaged, repair and replacement tend to be the only options. This is because teeth are not living structures. Even bones are alive, which is why with proper rest and care, they can restore themselves. Teeth, however, are not. Tooth enamel can regenerate if it is well cared for, but the tooth under it, if damaged, will not.
So to reiterate, if your teeth end up getting damaged or need to be removed, chances are good that you will have to suffer their loss, or replace them with artificial materials. Crowns and other dental implants are not at all uncommon; that being said, they can be costly and somewhat painful procedures. This is due largely in part to the expensive materials that must be used- precious metals like silver or mercury (or gold, if you’re fancy). After all, your teeth see a lot of abuse, so any artificial replacements need to be strong enough to do the job.
Fortunately, for those who have experienced the problem that is tooth loss, or those who are at risk for it, there is some hope; in the near future, it may actually be possible to grow the teeth back, which may reduce the need for various replacement options. This news comes from Columbia University, courtesy of Dr. Jeremy Mao and his team. But how is this possible? Well apparently, the team was able to create scaffolds for new teeth by making use of stem cells. With the foundation provided by those stem cells, the new teeth could begin to grow in.Related: Naturally Reverse Tooth Decay with These Steps
According to Dr. Mao’s explanation, stems cells are taken from the patient’s body, and then they are relocated to the place in the mouth where the new tooth is to grow. Once this process occurs, the tooth begins to merge with the surrounding tissue all on its own. Although the specifics are not quite clear at this time if successful, procedures like this could end up leading to unprecedented dental regrowth. When one considers all of the risk factors associated with implants, as well as the problems that arise from poor quality implants and missing teeth, this becomes more exciting.
- Some research indicates that certain dental implants can make the patient more vulnerable to serious illnesses in the future, including heavy hitters such as heart disease, liver disease, and kidney disease. There is also a risk of infection at the installation site, or problems related to sinuses if the implants are in the upper jaw.
- Though there is some research on biocompatibility testing, which ensures that implant materials are safe for use in our bodies, not all implants are rigorously tested to assure this safety. If we were to regrow our teeth rather than having them replaced with artificial materials, we could circumvent the need for such research, as well as this particular risk entirely.
- Generally, implants tend to be used in extraction sites where cavitations (inflammation) have already begun to develop. This can lead to the aggravation of certain autoimmune diseases upon receiving metal implants. There is also another potential problem in the form of oral galvanism. Oral galvanism is something that occurs when two dissimilar metals are placed into the same mouth. This basically has the effect of creating a battery, and this battery then drives the ions found in the metals into your mouth, generating electricity. It certainly sounds cool, but ultimately causes more harm than good.
For the time being, dentists are still limited to the procedures that are currently on the market. Dr. Mao’s work is still not available to the public, so it could be quite some time before growing teeth becomes a common occurrence among those with dental injuries. However, a success in this arena could not only improve dental health by leaps and bounds, but it could also set a precedent for the research and application of stem cells in other areas. That kind of research could lead to a number of treatments, and perhaps cures, for serious, chronic, and even deadly conditions that currently plague humanity.
Even were it available, the process is considerably lengthy, taking over two months to regrow a single tooth. This is generally much longer than it would take to get an implant and call it a day. However, given that a regrown tooth would be made from the patient’s own genetic material, there is a much, much lower chance of rejection by the body, which can cause serious medical complications- to say nothing of any ill effects caused by the implantation of artificial material.
Whatever the case, the procedure is still under research. Don’t go out and start taking risks with your teeth just yet. Even with the best in terms of treatment and recovery options, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the old adage goes. You’re better off protecting the health of your teeth, and the rest of your body too, instead of looking forward to cures and remedies.