2019 is already shaping up to be a pretty interesting year in terms of medical advancements. A Chinese scientist claims to have used CRISPR, a genome editing technology, to make the first genetically edited baby, much to the worry of the scientific community. A research team from the University of Tokyo unveiled a new semiconductive material that can read your body’s vital signs, and tests have begun on a “pacemaker” for the human brain said to improve memory in Alzheimer’s patients. Of course there are thousands more, many of which are applicable to the dental field.
One in particular seems straight out of science fiction. Is it the answer to that common nightmare of losing all your teeth?
Can We Learn to Regrow Teeth?
A group of scientists at Harvard’s Wyss Institute asked this very same question, and the results were incredible. Published in Science Translational Medicine, their paper outlined a method for regrowing teeth by injecting stem cells into the root canal, and stimulating these cells with a specialized laser emitting low-grade bursts of violet light. The test was done using rat teeth and a highly controlled environment. While this experiment wasn’t the first to successfully regrow teeth–researchers in Japan used a similar technique to grow an entire beagle tooth–the study may have developed a new process which could make the procedure more cost-effective and safe in the future.
Have you Recently Lost a Tooth?
Before going to your local dentist office demanding them to regrow your tooth, you should know this process is a long way from being commercially available. Stem cell growth is a complicated process that requires specialized equipment and a clean environment. Plus, this process will have to be researched and approved by the FDA, following a human trial. But that doesn’t mean all is lost. You don’t have to wait for new technology to replace your teeth.
If you’ve recently lost a tooth you’re hoping to replace, there are several treatments that are currently available. Traditional dental implants are an industry standard, as they carry an incredibly high success rate — 98 percent — and function much like a normal tooth. Unlike dentures, they require no change in diet or oral hygiene habits.
How Do Dental Implants Work?
Traditional dental implants are comprised of two main components: (1) the titanium implants, and (2) the crown. The first step is surgically inserting the titanium implant into the jaw and allowing time for it to heal. Once inserted, bone and muscle will begin fusing with the titanium in a process known as osseointegration, making this connection as strong as a natural tooth root. Afterward, your dentist attach a crown custom made to match the shade of your teeth.