According to statistics, around 80% of adults between the ages of 20 and 39 are affected by tooth decay. That means that most people have at least one or two cavities filled in their lifetime. Some have more. Dentists use silicone-based cement to fill cavities. But before they fill them, they clear the infected and decayed part of the tooth. Dental fillings for cavities get the job done. However, wear and tear, in addition to normal chewing of food, can loosen teeth, further increasing the risk of infection and decay.
Lately, people around the world are asking the question, “Can you regrow teeth?” Well, in order to understand that, we need to look at teeth and their structure. Teeth are composed of two different types of minerals. The outer covering is a thin layer known as enamel, and it serves to protect the tooth. Underneath is a thicker layer called dentine. This one is similar to bones and forms the inner core of the tooth. The dentine protects the soft tissue (or pulp) underneath. The difference is that enamel is a dead layer, while dentine is a live layer with nerves and gives teeth sensation. Enamel can’t be regrown, but there is the potential to regrow teeth and dentine. Some help is needed, and this is where science is making a push.
What does the science say?
Dentistry has been trying to find ways to regrow teeth for years. Dentists all around the world are always looking for the next best way to help people with their oral health. But earlier this year, dentists in the UK finally found a promising way to regrow teeth.
The field in dentistry tasked with finding ways to grow teeth again is called regenerative endodontics. And they are on the hunt for a natural solution that will help us get rid of fillings. Researchers at the King’s College in London finally found something. In their study, they tested a drug on mice to stimulate the growth of teeth, and the results were promising.
The team, led by Paul Sharpe, believes that the drug, which is used for Alzheimer’s disease, can help. First, they drilled tiny holes in the teeth of mice. Then, they applied Tideglusib to the teeth and used a tiny, biodegradable sponge made of collagen to stimulate growth. The drug, Tideglusib, has been tested and passed safety tests. Their study found that by week four, the dentine had filled out and the sponge had disappeared.
Sharpe said that the drug enhances what the tooth is trying to do naturally. But with the help of the drug, the process is much quicker and more potent.
When will you be able to regrow teeth?
This study is just the beginning, and you can’t go to your dentist’s office tomorrow and ask him to perform the procedure on you. We can’t say for sure how long will it take for the technology to be fully developed and adapted for people.
The patent on the technology is pending. Furthermore, dentistry has to find a way to implement the procedure as a cost effective technique. For the past decade or two, dental implants have been the best technology for people who want to replace an extracted or a lost tooth.
But the news that you can actually regrow teeth is encouraging. Nobody can say for certain when that will happen. Bear in mind that dentists also want to keep the current dental implant technology as long as possible. After all, dental implants are very expensive.
The benefits of regrown teeth
The mere fact that you can actually regrow teeth is more than enough. But there are many more benefits.
For starters, you don’t have to go through the lengthy process of tooth extraction and implantation (a process that can take up to six months to fully recover from). The technology that allows you to regrow teeth can get you new, natural teeth in nine weeks. That’s just a fraction of the time you need to place an implant in your mouth and your body to accept it as a stand-in for a tooth.
The technology is all natural, and there are no foreign materials that replace the lost tooth. Your body’s stem cells go to the scaffolding and then replace the lost tooth. The new tooth merges with the tissue surrounding it. That’s it, plain and simple.
Why is it better than dental implants?
Nothing against dental implants, but there are reasons why not everyone opts for them. They are a wonderful way to function and aesthetically replace a lost tooth, but, as with all implants, there might be complications. Here are some reasons why dental implants are not always your best choice:
- They are expensive.
- Your body might reject the implant as a foreign object.
- There is a risk for infection of the gum and bone surrounding the implant. In that case, you might have to remove the implant and get a new one.
- Implants might not fuse with the jawbone.
All of the above-mentioned reasons result in huge investment in time and money, and some people simply choose not to go the implant route.