This new experimental treatment could give people a way to regrow their missing teeth, provided the first research in laboratory animals is successful.
In a study published in February 2021 in the journal Science Advances, scientists from Japan’s Fukui University and Kyoto University developed a monoclonal antibody treatment that activates the body to grow new teeth. If the experiments to come prove to be successful, it could eventually give us a way to regrow teeth lost in adulthood or those missing from childhood due to tooth agenesis, a congenital disease.
The process is quite a challenge. The genes responsible for tooth growth have a huge impact on development throughout the body. Unfortunately, some of the early iterations of the treatment caused congenital disabilities and poor survival rates in lab mice before the team resolved all issues.
However, researchers eventually found that blocking a gene called USAG-1 resulted in increased activity of BMP (Bone Morphogenetic Protein). This molecule determines the number of teeth that will grow, allowing adult mice to regrow missing teeth. The results were equally promising in ferrets, which the researchers said is important because their teeth look more like those of humans than mice.
Kyoto researcher Katsu Takahashi, lead author of the study, explained:
Ferrets are diphyodont animals with tooth patterns similar to humans. Our next plan is to test the antibodies on other animals such as pigs and dogs.
While researchers are a long way from human trials, the continued success of these upcoming experiments will be a sign of hope for the future of a treatment that naturally regrows our missing teeth. The study is the first to demonstrate the benefits of monoclonal antibodies on tooth renewal. In addition, it provides a new therapeutic outline for a clinical problem that can only be solved with implants and other artificial procedures.
For the teeth that we have left in our mouth, it is vital to take care of them to avoid missing teeth. Enamel is the hard, mineralized substance that surrounds every tooth in your mouth. This protective coating is not made up of living cells; so, once it’s gone, your body doesn’t replenish it.
Therefore, it is crucial to protect, strengthen and improve enamel – this will prevent tooth decay. With that in mind, scientists at the University of Washington have developed a lozenge, similar to a breath mint, that may regrow your tooth enamel and strengthen your teeth.