Saturday, February 13, 2016

Will We Never Have To Worry About Losing Teeth Again?

A study from the University of Sheffield has identified a set of genes responsible for the continuous replacement of teeth seen in sharks.  These genes are responsible for the formation and operation of special cells called the dental lamina that from new teeth - the same cells that form baby teeth and adult teeth in humans.  Because the study showed that these genes have been conserved over hundreds of millions of years, they predict that these same genes made the first vertebrate teeth, and are also responsible for the production of human teeth.
A catshark
The study, which analyzed the teeth of catshark embryos, also found that these genes were activated when the shark's teeth first form, when they emerge, and when the shark needs new teeth.  They hope that the discovery of these genes will lead to new treatments for tooth loss in humans.
What it sounds like to me is that they hope to find a way to reactivate these genes so that lost teeth can be replaced.  If they can figure out how to do this, it would put a lot of dentists out of work, because who cares about toothcare when bad teeth can be automatically replaced?  Seriously though, that probably wouldn't happen, because the treatment would probably be really expensive, at least at first, and in all likelihood would need to be reapplied for every tooth lost.  Still, the idea of regaining good, strong, real teeth when some are lost is appealing.  Though denture-making companies will lose some business.


  1. This article is very interesting. The idea of activating a gene that is not normal activated in humans may cause possible side effects.Hopefully something does come of this research. The elderly will most definitely benefit from this! Good job!

  2. If this idea can actually be put into action many people would benefit. Although, as you mentioned, the technology needed would be very expensive and not be available to everyone.

  3. You said that this discovery could put many dentists out of business. I disagree because even though you can replace the bad teeth with this discovery, you still will need someone to go to after these new teeth are put in. Still I think a lot more research needs to be put in to this concept before we even get there but hopefully if it does happen, there can be a way to make it less costly than you think it'll be