A recent study has unveiled a surprising link between pufferfish and humans.
The stem cells and genes that cause pufferfish to lose and regrow teeth are part of the same genetic code that allows us to regrow teeth after losing our baby teeth.
While humans only regenerate teeth once, the teeth of a pufferfish are replaced over and over again as they wear down over time — except for their four front teeth.
Instead of losing these teeth, when new teeth grow in, they fuse with the existing front teeth to create an extremely powerful beak that allows them to do things like open clams and mussels or scrape algae off rocks.
Why Should You Care?
While losing baby teeth is completely normal, losing your permanent adult teeth is associated with potentially dangerous health conditions.
Tooth loss makes it harder for you to smile, speak, chew, and digest food properly — all of which are very important, whether you’re a child or an adult.
However, this new discovery could help researchers learn more about tooth loss in humans, even leading to a way for researchers to restore teeth one day.
In the meantime, it’s important to know what the implications of tooth loss really are, and how to prevent it.
What You Should Know About Tooth Loss in Children
Baby teeth serve several important purposes, so even though we lose them, it’s important to take care of them.
These primary teeth are always present in a baby’s mouth, and they have a general “schedule” in terms of when they start to show up and when it’s time for them to leave.
For instance, the four front teeth typically grow in first, and they’re also often the first to fall out when it comes time for permanent teeth to come in, followed by the lateral incisors, canine teeth, then molars.
If this schedule is disrupted by a baby tooth getting knocked out, instead of naturally falling out, or falling out because of poor dental health, it can upset the whole sequence.
Baby teeth are basically placeholders for permanent teeth, and if one goes missing before it should, the wrong permanent tooth might drift to fill in the space, leading to what could be a long chain of crooked teeth that requires braces to fix later on.
What You Should Know About Tooth Loss in Adults
Many people assume that you naturally lose your teeth as you age — but you don’t! Your teeth are incredibly strong and shouldn’t decay and fall out if you take care of them the way you should.
The biggest cause for tooth loss is far and away the result of poor dental hygiene, particularly because of gum disease, a condition that affects nearly half of the US population over 30.
Other common causes for tooth loss include trauma, like having a tooth knocked out or constantly grinding teeth, and serious illnesses. Cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and autoimmune diseases also have strong links to tooth loss.
However, tooth loss is often a result of plaque build-up and the wearing down of enamel. Proper preventative care helps keep your teeth healthy and secure inside your smile.
By maintaining good dental hygiene habits like brushing, flossing, eating healthy, and avoiding sugary or acidic foods and beverages, you can keep your smile strong and lasting, long into the future.
Brought to you by Blue Hills Dental. Material discussed is meant for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, please note that individual situations can vary. You should always consult a licensed professional when making decisions concerning dental care. Add: #2017-44379 (exp. 8/19).