Please, Please Let There Be Regenerated Teeth

If only adult human teeth could be regrown, regenerated!


(Dental implant scaffold)

Dr. Jeremy Mao, the Edward V. Zegarelli Professor of Dental Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, has unveiled a growth factor-infused, three-dimensional scaffold with the potential to regenerate an anatomically correct tooth in just nine weeks from implantation. By using a procedure developed in the university's Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory, Dr. Mao can direct the body's own stem cells toward the scaffold, which is made of natural materials. Once the stem cells have colonized the scaffold, a tooth can grow in the socket and then merge with the surrounding tissue.

Dr. Mao's technique not only eliminates the need to grow teeth in a Petri dish, but it is the first to achieve regeneration of anatomically correct teeth by using the body's own resources. Factor in the faster recovery time and the comparatively natural process of regrowth (as opposed to implantation), and you have a massively appealing dental treatment.

The first time I read about this idea was in William Gibson's 1984 novel Neuromancer; he wrote about cool designer teeth that could be implanted:

The one who showed up at the loft door with a box of diskettes from the Finn was a soft-voiced boy called Angelo. His face was a simple graft grown on collagen and shark-cartilage polysaccharides, smooth and hideous. It was one of the nastiest pieces of elective surgery Case had ever seen. When Angelo smiled, revealing the razor-sharp canines of some large animal, Case was actually relieved. Toothbud transplants.
(Read about toothbud transplants)

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