New research from a team at the University of Sheffield has shown that humans possess the same gene network that is present in sharks, allowing them to regrow several sets of teeth throughout their lives.
Currently, of course, humans only grow two sets of teeth – milk teeth and adult teeth – but the Sheffield scientists think that this gene, which usually dies off or lies dormant once our adult teeth have grown, could potentially be “switched on” allowing us to grow further sets of teeth.
So, what does this mean in terms of our oral health? Well, here at CK Dental practice in Bristol we see a lot of patients with advanced tooth decay, who end up losing teeth and having implants or dentures fitted in their place.
Sharks, on the other hand, have no problem with tooth decay, as they are able to grow new teeth as soon as one set is lost.
Is this the end of tooth brushing?
Well, as exciting as this discovery is, there is still no known way to activate this tooth regeneration gene, so it might be a long while yet before humans are able to regrow teeth once our adult teeth are fully developed.
And of course good oral health is not just about keeping your teeth – it is important to look after your teeth and gums for many reasons, including health concerns like mouth cancer and gum disease, as well as halitosis, teeth staining and other more aesthetic worries.
What should we do now?
Until we find a way to help humans regenerate their teeth, the best plan is to stick with your current oral health regime: brush twice a day, floss whenever possible, avoid sugary foods or those that are likely to stain your teeth like tea, coffee and red wine, and visit the dentist regularly.
Here at CK Dental practice in Bristol, we recommend that patients come in for a check up once every six months, to ensure that their teeth and gums are in good shape and to catch any potential problems early.