Alligators a Model for Missing Teeth

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013, 8:32 pm

Human beings only get two sets of teeth so we need to take care of them. Alligators keep replacing teeth throughout their lives and researchers are hoping they can serve as models for tooth replacement in human adults.Can the American alligator teach us how to regrow human teeth asks Wilbanks Smile Center.

Researchers from the University of Southern California studied the repeated tooth formation in American alligators. Did you know that alligators can repeat tooth formation up to 50 times throughout their lives? Alligators were chosen because they live a long time, and have well organized teeth with many physical traits that are similar to mammals. The researchers discovered that at an early stage in the development of the alligator tooth, a small bulge is created that holds stem cells. The study authors hope that the finding can someday aid efforts to trigger tooth renewal in human beings.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to regrow a tooth that had been lost to accident, decay or gum disease?  Until that day arrives we do have wonderful options for tooth replacement. Years ago, the only tooth replacement available was a dental bridge. Dental bridges are still done and are fine restorations but they require adjacent teeth to be  prepared in order to serve as anchors for the bridge.

Today we have a better way to replace a missing tooth – a dental implant. Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that are inserted into the jaw and the jaw bone actually joins with the implant. This serves two purposes – it provides a strong, permanent base to anchor the replacement tooth (a dental crown or bridge) and it helps preserve the health of the jaw bone itself. Our bones have a “use it or lose it” rule and when a tooth is no longer anchored in the jaw bone the body feels like it doesn’t need to keep replenishing the bone that isn’t being used. Dental implants help avoid the shrunken, aged look that so many people get after they have lost teeth.

Find out more about your tooth replacement options by contacting the Toccoa, GA office of Wilbanks Smile Center today at 706-886-9439. We’ll be happy to schedule your visit and if you feel nervous about visiting the dentist just let us know – sedation dentistry is a wonderful option.

 

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