Can we grow teeth in a Lab?

Technology in the dental community grows in leaps and bounds each year. A major advancement is the successful development of a set of teeth in a lab at King’s College London, where scientists have successfully implanted bio-teeth into mice. Is this the way forward for all dental ailments post 2019?

This development doesn’t necessarily mean that we will all be walking around with sets of cloned choppers, but more realistically, dentists will be able to refill the holes in our teeth with healthy, living tissue, giving our permanent teeth a second chance.

Abigail Tucker, a professor of development and evolution at King’s College London told the BBC that it’s unlikely that humans will ever evolve to have more than two sets of teeth since evolution requires that differences influence whether or not offspring survive. But it is true that we are still evolving in a way – experts believe that fewer and fewer people are now getting wisdom teeth, the third molars that arrive in early adulthood when our jaw is fully grown. 

So, instead of the need for humans to develop a third set of teeth (instead of just milk teeth and then permanent ones), the team is now working on being able to forge teeth without having to wait for evolution. 

Similar studies have focused on finding ways to get our teeth to heal themselves. Ruchi Sahota, a dentist in California and a spokesperson for the American Dental Association, explains that teeth have a thin enamel shell, “like the skin of an apple, which protects the inner core, the dentin of the tooth. And just like the seeds of an apple, we have the nerve of our tooth. A cavity tends to form in the enamel. When it gets into the dentin, you need to fill it at the dentist. When it gets to the nerve, that’s when you need a root canal.”

Dentin is the calcified tissue that makes up the inner portion of our teeth. 

A study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine found that treating exposed tooth pulp in rats with low-power laser light before filling the cavity could induce stem cells to create dentin in the tooth.

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