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7 Things You Could Do To “Regrow” Your Teeth

Dentists have developed all sorts of ways over the years to correct and repair teeth that are decayed, degraded, and incorrectly positioned. The nerves may be removed from dead teeth, and broken teeth are capped or crowned.

Sealants and fluoride help protect against the formation of cavities, or dental caries, in hard-to-reach areas that are often missed by brushing.

Yes, there is a lot that the dentist can do to keep your teeth looking and feeling good. But almost every treatment relies on introducing a foreign substance into your mouth. It is not supposed to be possible to regrow teeth, yet new research indicates that it may just be.

From strategies to boost the strength of the teeth you’ve got, to the possibility of regrowing an entire tooth, we’ll tell you the “tooth” about some intriguing developments in oral health. Here’s how you could regrow damaged teeth.

1. Use Specialized Toothpastes
First, some bad news. There is currently no way to regrow eroded enamel. Enamel is the substance that coats the outside of your teeth and it’s the hardest substance in the human body. But it can also be worn away over time. Brushing and consuming acidic foods are the two most common causes of enamel erosion. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

However, you can remineralize the enamel you have left and thereby shore up your teeth’s protective coating.

Several brands of toothpaste are designed to protect against acid erosion and to strengthen existing enamel. They do it by pushing calcium and phosphates into your teeth, with an assist from good old fluoride. Dietary acid pulls these strengthening elements out, but fluoride is able to reclaim them from our saliva and draw them back into teeth.

2. Eat Eggshells
Others eschew the fancy toothpastes and swear by eating eggshells for remineralized enamel. Last we checked, eggshells weren’t really considered edible.

But it turns out that they have a similar composition to teeth, including lots of calcium. Many people report fantastic results after adopting a routine that includes eating at least one eggshell a day.

You have to boil your eggshells briefly to make sure they’re safe to eat, and then dry them thoroughly in a warm oven.

Finally, grind them into a very fine powder to avoid getting cut by sharp edges. Sprinkle the powder on anything you think will help you get it down.

3. Take a Medication
Dentists are really excited about the possibility of using a medication to spur stem cells within dental pulp to grow more dentin, which is the bony tissue underneath your enamel.

An experimental drug called Tideglusib has a really silly name but a lot of potential to do just that. Currently in trials for use with Alzheimer’s patients, the FDA could fast track the additional indication for dental use.

Currently, when the dentist finds a cavity, he or she drills out the decayed material and then fills the whole with a substance called amalgam. It’s a good enough solution except that the filling can sometimes fall out, and the amalgam contains small amounts of harmful mercury.

While using Tideglusib wouldn’t avoid needing to have the decayed portion of your tooth drilled, the tooth could then close the hole itself in a way that is completely integrated with the tooth, rather than glued in.

4. Laser Technology
Scientists at the University of Buffalo in New York think that lasers might also be able to help regrow dentin. They found that shining a low-power laser light at remaining pulp may also stimulate stem cells to start producing dentin again. Figuring out how to trigger stem cells is a huge boon with many potential health applications.

When it comes to teeth, the laser procedure likely won’t eliminate the need for dead teeth to undergo a root canal and be covered with a crown. But, the existence of new dentin does strengthen the tooth that’s left and might very well extend the life of the crown that’s installed.

Normally, the pressure of biting and chewing food weakens the glue that holds a crown in place, so it needs to be replaced every so often.

5. Ultrasound Technology
Braces are the gold standard when it comes to creating that perfectly aligned smile we all want, but they can actually do quite a bit of damage to teeth as they work.

One problem is called dental root resorption, which involves breakdown of the root structure. This limits the amount of time that braces can be worn. (Other causes of root resorption are endocrine disturbances, trauma, and excessive whitening treatment.)

However, a team of Canadian researchers has designed a low-intensity pulsed ultrasound system that resides on a little chip that can be attached to an orthodontic bracket or plastic removable crown.

The ultrasound waves work to counteract the resorptive process, allowing for longer use of braces or healing for folks in danger of losing teeth to disease. A market-ready LIPUS product is slated for 2020.

6. Use Biomaterial
Scientists from Kinki University in Japan have been working on away to adapt hydroxyapatite, which is the biomaterial that makes up enamel, into a thin film that can be used as a natural enamel substitute.

The tricky part is that currently the material is just wrapped around the tooth and can still be loosened or fall out over time. Dental researchers are looking for a way to potentially harness nanotechnology to grow hydroxyapatite crystals directly on the outside of teeth.

7. Grow an Entire Tooth
This might be the ultimate goal for science in the dental realm – to regrow an entire missing tooth. It has already been done in mice, but what it would require to be done in humans is rife with ethical and legal issues. Basically, the process involves the creation of a tooth primordium, which is a tooth in its earliest stage of development. After being created in a lab, the primordium would then be implanted into the jaw where a missing tooth once was.

The problem is that in order to make the primordium, scientists have to harvest stem cells from human embryos. Embryonic stem cells are the only ones that can make teeth; as adults those cells are missing.

It’s against the law (not to mention ethically murky) to harvest stem cells from embryos, so development of this technology is going to require a process that doesn’t involve embryos at all. Don’t hold your breath, but rest assured that scientists are chipping away at this problem as we speak.

Used with varying levels of frequency, these 7 methods of dental care are nevertheless changing the way we think about our teeth.

Rather than just accepting that teeth in their natural form are not replaceable, researchers are delving into what makes this possible in other animals, like sharks and alligators, and looking to find a similar mechanism in humans. We have to say, we’re totally behind anything that makes our time at the dentist a little less miserable.