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Medicine Science

Tooth Regeneration Coming Soon 289

Ponca City, We love you writes "For thousands of years, losing teeth has been a routine part of human aging. Now the Washington Post reports that researchers are close to growing important parts of teeth from stem cells, including creating a living root from scratch, perhaps within one year. According to Pamela Robey of the NIH. 'Dentists say, "Give me a root and I can put a crown on it."' In a few years dentists will treat periodontal disease with regeneration by using stem cells to create hard and soft tissue; they will take out a tooth that is about to fall, and reconnect it firmly to the regenerated tissue. Although nobody is predicting when it will be possible to grow teeth on demand, in adults, to replace missing ones, a common guess is five to ten years. Baby and wisdom teeth are sources of stem cells that could be 'banked' for future health needs, says Robey. 'When you think about it, the teeth children put under their pillows may end up being worth much more than the tooth fairy's going rate. Plus, if you still have your wisdom teeth, it's nice to know you're walking around with your own source of stem cells.'"
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Tooth Regeneration Coming Soon

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  • My opinion (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 05, 2009 @09:14PM (#26337935)
    This research bites!
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday January 05, 2009 @09:15PM (#26337945)

    My parents were good to me, they adjusted the 25-cents a tooth they got for inflation... wonder what I'll have to pay my kids?

    • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @09:20PM (#26337985) Homepage Journal

      My parents were good to me, they adjusted the 25-cents a tooth they got for inflation... wonder what I'll have to pay my kids?

      My six year old son says two dollars. But then he has a DS game buying habit to suppport.

    • My parents were good to me, they adjusted the 25-cents a tooth they got for inflation... wonder what I'll have to pay my kids?

      This sort of thing is likely to be pretty expensive. I'm thinking and arm and a leg (yours).

    • Re:A quarter? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by conureman ( 748753 )

      I got a dime. Kids.

      • by Arthur Grumbine ( 1086397 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @10:26PM (#26338477) Journal
        Back in my day when we lost our teeth we had to pay the tooth fairy $100 for each tooth we lost. She said the $100 was for "protection" - from tooth decay we assumed...of course we learned the awful truth when little Johnny refused to pay, and that crazy bitch knocked out the rest of his teeth with a baseball bat.

        A dime?! That we could have been so lucky!
        • I always read that with a Yorkshire accent.

    • by passion ( 84900 )
      I actually cried when my teeth were replaced with money. Miraculously enough, when I woke up in the morning, my tooth was back, and the money had vanished. By some freak luck, I managed to keep all of my baby teeth in a packet after they all fell out... perhaps these will pay off? Who knows?
  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) * on Monday January 05, 2009 @09:16PM (#26337957)

    Plus, if you still have your wisdom teeth

    I don't have them ... my dentist finally convinced me to have them removed a couple years ago.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Plus, if you still have your wisdom teeth

      I don't have them ... my dentist finally convinced me to have them removed a couple years ago.

      Wasn't there something recently about making stem cells from normal (I think) tissue in the reproductive system?

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @09:50PM (#26338209)

      If you can pull stem cells out of a wisdom tooth I don't see why you couldn't pull them out of any tooth you wanted. Sacrifice a back molar then regrow it, along with any other teeth you need replaced.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I don't have them ... my dentist finally convinced me to have them removed a couple years ago.

      I had mine pulled years ago as well. Now I keep them on a chain around my neck. I get lots of dates now!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lawpoop ( 604919 )
      I've had mine since they came in. ( Well, I guess that's a redundant statement )

      How/why did your dentist convince you to get them removed? Were they bothering you? Did you have other problems that they thought might be related? Has there been an improvement in your life?

      I've been bothered by migraine and cluster headaches, and neck and back tension for a long time. However, they started when I was 13, about five years before my wisdom teeth came in.
      • by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:00PM (#26338731)

        A friend of mine had his removed because he was having headaches. Since I was also having headaches, I asked a doctor and his reply:

        No, that probably will not fix your head or jaw aches.

        He still recommended that I have them removed for other reasons, including the fact that the longer you wait, the more dangerous it is. There's always a chance that removal will tear a nerve in your cheek giving you a permanently numb cheek, among other dangers.

        As always, I am -not- a doctor. You should only take medical advice from a doctor.

        With this research, I'm wondering if I should have waited, though. The advice above about getting the stem cells from another back tooth is a good idea, though. Even if they (for some reason) couldn't regrow that back tooth, I'd gladly trade a back one for a front one.

        • I just turned 43, and no one's ever even suggested that I have them removed. I'm just lucky, I guess.

          • Mine are in perfectly normally (no impaction, nothing), and I've had exactly one dentist suggest getting them removed. And two others tell me to ignore any dentist who tells me that. Although they *do* say that if I ever get a cavity in one, it'd be best to get them all removed - good thing I floss! (Though I use those flosser things b/c I can't get my fingers in far enough to wrap floss around the extra set of teeth...)
      • I've had mine since they came in. ( Well, I guess that's a redundant statement )

        Back in my day, when we wanted wisdom teeth, we had to walk 5 miles and pick them up ourselves. Uphill. Both ways. In the snow.

      • I still have all four of my wisdom teeth too. Fortunately they came in straight and strong and I have had zero problems with them. When they were coming in, my dentist said if they come in alright that it will be good to leave them alone because if I ever have any problems later in life with my the rest of my molars that result in their complete loss, then those 3rd molars might come in handy as anchors for bridges. I'm almost 40 yrs old now and I've already had to have some 1st and 2nd molar filings and a

    • I've got 2 left, I got one removed about 2 months ago, but by that stage it was really half a tooth and I had another removed 4 years ago
    • My dentist did not convince me. Perhaps I am lucky. Very good teeth, but 25 years ago he said my mouth was heading to meltdown due to the impending growth of my wisdom teeth. This was supported by some pointing at some vague x-rays To this day, still have 'em and no probs. My girlfriend over the time had hers out as a matter of couse due to dental advice. I know some have problems with wisdom teeth, but then, they have mouths filled with what look like grey wooden pegs in lieu of teeth. I suspect the wisdom
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <> on Monday January 05, 2009 @09:17PM (#26337965) Journal

    A couple of years after having a tooth extracted, a new one came in, and his dentist was going over his older x-rays to make sure that the tooth coming in hadn't been there all along. Apparently it's a very rare thing, but not completely unheard of, and we all grow teeth at least once in our lives.


    • and we all grow teeth at least once in our lives.

      Three times, technically, though I'm not sure when the wisdom teeth start to develop. Could be they start at the same time and are just late in breaking through.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by iluvcapra ( 782887 )

        The wisdom teeth are part of your permanent tier, they just erupt later. Back before we had good dentistry, it wasn't uncommon for an individual to be missing a tooth or two by the time they reached 25, and so when the wisdom teeth came in, they would rack in from the back and shift the others forward.

        Now that tooth loss is uncommon, wisdom teeth are regularly extracted, since they're liable to become impacted if there isn't space (from missing teeth) for them to grow in.

        And it's true that some people d

      • by tbird81 ( 946205 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:52PM (#26339079)

        I'm not a dentist, but I have seen a child's skull with the mandible dissected at a museum. You can see a whole lot of adult teeth lined up under the baby ones.

        I was looking for a picture of this on the net, but couldn't find one quickly on google images. But take a look at this picture Baby teeth [] and the x-ray on this dental site. []

        So I'd guess the wisdoms are just waiting under the baby teeth to pop up. Just a little longer than the others.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Years ago, I worked with a woman who'd had three complete sets of teeth. Just after she finished getting rid of her baby teeth, her front teeth started to get loose. The dentist couldn't find anything wrong, but X-rays revealed that there was a third set of teeth growing below, so she had to go through the whole process again as a teenager.
      • by jacks0n ( 112153 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @02:08PM (#26345417)

        I had three full sets of teeth too. I got hit in the face by my little sister when I was ~16 (don't ask), and the front teeth came right out. I could feel and see the nubs of the new teeth coming in right beneath them, and the teeth that came out were clearly not adult teeth though they weren't exactly like baby teeth either. Ultimately I lost all my teeth that year. Oddly, when I was ~24 my canines got loose and came out, with a new set below them, so 4 sets of canines. X-Rays confirm I'm on my adult teeth now, which sucks. I liked having spares.

        A few of my brothers and sisters had 3 sets of canines, but I was the only one with three complete sets out of 9 kids. I asked around my extended family, and on my mother's side heard of a few more people who had had three sets, so apparently there is some genetic basis for it.

    • by lawpoop ( 604919 )
      Most people grow them twice! :)
    • by Starayo ( 989319 )
      I had three of my right upper central incisor... After the baby tooth, out came this unholy twisted enamel, truly the tooth of the devil himself. Maybe.

      Anyway, after that my normal one came through.
  • Hm. Great (Score:4, Funny)

    by imsabbel ( 611519 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @09:20PM (#26337983)

    Now the replacement after the painful procedure will ALSO be able to rot and hurt like the original. Fuck yeah !

    (only half joking. I was really happy after a root channel treatment, as that damn think was finally dead and not able to hurt anymore. In constrast to the year before.)

    • Re:Hm. Great (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @09:35PM (#26338093)

      On the flipside, many of my teeth required some sort of work done on them after a course of treatment by a dubious orthodontist when I was a kid. Since then, even though dentists have always told me I have generally good oral hygiene, it seems like I have to get some filling or something replaced every few months, which is expensive and occasionally painful. I would give a lot to have real, intact teeth again, and articles like this give me some hope that one day it might even be possible. (I hear you on the root surgery thing, though: been there, done that too.)

      • With the pace biotechnology has been moving in the last 2-4 years (stem cell research, regeneration, etc), I would expect that almost anything in your body (sans brain) will be able to be regenerated in say another 5 years. Not a bad thing in my opinion. I look forward to living forever.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      Instead of painful root canals you'd just yank the tooth and grow another in it's place.

      • Maybe I got lucky or something, but my root canal (in a back molar with about 4 canals) didn't hurt at all. It hurt before because of the infection, but a bunch of ibuprofen plus local anaesthetic seemed to do the trick during, and it didn't really hurt at all afterwards (just somewhat sore, but not enough for me to need any painkillers).

    • "I think I need a root canal. I definitely need a long, slow root canal."

  • Dental genetics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @09:32PM (#26338069) Journal

    One thing that's often ignored is that some people have naturally "harder" teeth than others. I, unfortunately, am "blessed" with the softer variety. I put out the effort: brush vigorously, regularly, flossing daily, etc. and my teeth are just horrible, and probably a third are basically just plastic. I am one of my Dentist's best customers.

    My wife, on the other hand, simply doesn't have to spend nearly as much effort on her teeth. She brushes and all, but she has gorgeous teeth and puts in only modest effort. I see the same in our children. Some have her teeth, put out little effort and consistently have nice, white teeth and no cavities, while others have mine, and brush regularly only to have cavities every single visit.

    Finally, I can grow new teeth!?!? Oh wait, they'll be *MY* teeth? With *MY* crappy-ass tooth genes?

    (to my wife) Eh, babe? (Ahem) Mind if I have one of your wisdom teeth?

    • I inherited disease-prone teeth from my dad, but my wife has awesome teeth and hardly ever flosses. I'm 34, I brush and floss three times a day with the precision only a nerd can provide...still, I'm just barely holding my 'gum pockets' at 3mm.

      I hope our kids get her teeth genes!

      • Have you tried 30 seconds of Listerine after every brush? It's helped my teeth tremendously. I think the alcohol kills the bacteria.

      • I bet you don't give them as much attention as Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke did in High Anxiety. [] That guy was really obsessive-compulsive about it.
    • Re:Dental genetics (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Arterion ( 941661 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @10:14PM (#26338391)

      Don't brush too vigorously: you'll end up with with completely different problem of receding gums. If you don't have a really good electric toothbrush, get one. I use an Oral-B Triumph. I was totally amazed at how much I liked it. I thought it would just be a gimmick, but it's not. It's the best investment I've ever made into a gadget.

      I also find 30 seconds of Listerine after brushing helps a lot, too.

      Another thing I use daily is Johnson and Johnson Stim-U-Dent sticks. They take a little getting used to, but I really like them.

    • by sukotto ( 122876 )

      I too am blessed with soft teeth. Well, it was a blessing for my dentist anyway :-(

      I think for me the ideal would be to grow a new tooth, then have it sealed in some way to prevent cavities from forming. Even if I had to go through sealing once a year it would be worth it.

  • by N!NJA ( 1437175 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @09:41PM (#26338131)
    the irony is that the people who would benefit more from such advancement (the toothless poor who cant bite a beefjerk at the age of 21) will not be able to afford such treatment.
  • Crown? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Samah ( 729132 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @09:42PM (#26338137)

    'Dentists say, "Give me a root and I can put a crown on it."'

    This is the same thing that a king says when looking for a potential queen.

  • 5 years my arse (Score:4, Insightful)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Monday January 05, 2009 @09:49PM (#26338195) Homepage Journal

    When are journalists going to learn that it takes 10 years to get from the lab to market? And when it comes to anything medical, add another 10 years for clinical trials.

    • Don't forget about the basic rule of scientific research - triple the amount of time you think it will take. So, when this researcher says that he'll be growing teeth in one year, he really means three. So we'll really see this on the (free) market in 20-25 years.

      Fortunately, my dentist has a drug habit to support :)
  • Damn... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pongo000 ( 97357 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @09:54PM (#26338251)

    ...I'm glad that I've still got all four of my wisdom teeth! Sounds like they will be good insurance towards healthy teeth in my later years. Actually, I wonder if this biotechnology will spell the end to the "convenience" removal of wisdom teeth.

    • by Fjandr ( 66656 )

      In many cases the removal of wisdom teeth is absolute necessity. There are many people born whose jaws simply are not large enough to accomodate the addition of wisdom teeth without serious dental problems. Add to that the number of people who have wisdom teeth growing in impacted, and there's a good reason why their removal is fairly standard.

      I wouldn't have had mine removed, but unfortunately my jaw is both too small and the lower ones were impacted. Nothing like having 4 teeth extracted prior to eruption

    • To echo the other replies...

      I had no room for my wisdom teeth -- first time someone told me I *didn't* have a big mouth -- and they came in horribly impacted, and even fused to the bone. It was not a "convenience" removal.

  • My teeth are crap.

    I'm combining a weak enamel with deep crevices, a tendency to eat wrong and brush too rarely or too superficially, and apparently I gnash my teeth while asleep.

    This degree of regeneration would be worth a great lot to me...

    • by AsnFkr ( 545033 )
      I gnash my teeth while asleep.

      Seriously go get an occlusal guard. I went for a long time without one due to not having insurance/not having spare cash, and now due to the grinding I have a tooth that was fractured above the gumline that became infected. They had to slice a flap in my gums to get to the damaged region, then because the damage was so progressed it required a root canal which was the worst experience of my life due to the tooth being "hot" (read: It was numbed properly but I could still fe
  • the tooth fairy cuold really clean up with a nice profit margin.

  • by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @10:06PM (#26338337) Homepage
    Screw growing back teeth, I want to know when we can have the genetically modified Streptococcus Mutans. Like 5 years ago, researchers announced they'd developed a strain of s.mutans (the bacteria responsible for most tooth decay) that doesn't excrete lactic acid. Once subjects' mouths were inoculated, the modified s.mutans completely took over, pushing the damaging strain out. Once inoculated you're theoretically 99% cavity free for the rest of your life. Is the ADA lobbying to keep it off the market because fillings and such are such a big money maker? Wouldn't surprise me.
  • It's about time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by symbolic ( 11752 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @10:57PM (#26338701)

    One thing that has always puzzled me is that despite all the advances in technology, getting a crown is still VERY expensive. There has been no appreciable reduction in cost due to better manufacturing techniques, or better/cheaper materials. Compare this to say, lasik - when it was first introduced it cost about 4K per eye I think. Now it's a few hundred.

    • Unfortunately the crowns you have gotten probably cost the same for the actual prep, but lab costs have gone way up. The majority of crowns have a large portion of and/or are completely gold. Look at the cost of gold in the last couple years and you'll see why lab costs have gone way way up.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      One thing that has always puzzled me is that despite all the advances in technology, getting a crown is still VERY expensive. There has been no appreciable reduction in cost due to better manufacturing techniques, or better/cheaper materials.

      My dad is a dental lab technician (the guys who make crowns) and to hear him tell it, there have essentially been no advances in technology or manufacturing techniques. Yes, the materials are better and the process is apparently more streamlined, with better models to w

  • I don't have any wisdom teeth, you insensitive clod!
  • ... but think of the children. I need to chew! Teeth FTW in 2016!
  • I had 4 wisdom teeth taken out when I was 17.

    Luckily for me, two more grew in almost 10 years later...

  • "Tooth Regeneration Coming Soon - Millions of Rednecks Rejoice!"

    • I suffered from chronic gum disease and cavity prone teeth almost all of my first fifty years, spent thousands for just about every dental procedure you can imagine and was told over and over, "We can save your teeth".

      I finally got tired of the constant pain and infection and had all but a couple of teeth removed. I have a full upper denture and a couple of teeth on the lower jaw to hold a partial in place. Best dental work I ever had done.

  • by 2Bits ( 167227 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @12:45AM (#26339365)

    The question is, can I regrow custom-designed teeth? What if I don't like my teeth in the first place? I don't want to regrow the same set of teeth again.

    I was born with a severe lack of calcium. By the age of 3, I still didn't have any tooth. Not that it didn't grow, but the teeth were just like powder. When I ate, the teeth that just appeared in the morning were smashed by any food and swallowed along.

    After taking a lot of calcium supplement (still do on a daily basis), eventually, they grew. the shape are fine, but they are grey. They are weak, cavities and rotten root canal are nasty problems. And that causes all kinds of gum problems, even with daily Listerine or salty water mouth wash.

    Since high school, I always have to work extra to make that extra 5000 to 6000 more than others, every year, to take care of the teeth. Not to mention that it had been an obstacle to self-confidence for so many years.

    Now, if can regrow my teeth, I certainly don't want to regrow the same set. Can I custom-design mine?

  • There is more to growing a tooth than stem cells. You can't just plant teeth like seeds in dirt. It has to attach to the right blood supply and the right nerve. Teeth do not sit in bone; so you can implant them like titanium screws. They need a periodontal ligament which supports the tooth in the bone and allows it to flex. The ligament has to attach to the bone as well as the tooth. That is one reason they cannot transplant teeth or even move your own wisdom teeth to the first or second molar positio
  • by nobodyman ( 90587 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @11:01AM (#26342685) Homepage

    When I see people with extreme body modifications like subdermal beads and spikes that protrude from the scalp, I wonder what their children of those people could possibly do to frustrate them.

    This article gives me the answer: in 30 years teenagers will grow teeth all over their body.

  • by RichiH ( 749257 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @11:11AM (#26342793) Homepage

    As someone who has smaller children in his extended family, I am wondering if there are any house-hold-compatible ways to save cells on teeth. Or should I just forget the whole thing?