Preventing wisdom teeth

I have thought for years that it should be possible to regrow teeth. Teeth should be one of the easiest body parts to regrow. It seemed likely that the tooth bud, once formed, would receive signals from its local environment and grow into the correct type of tooth and emerge into place. That’s what happens during normal adult tooth development. So generating a tooth bud looks to be the key step. And indeed, in the past few years there have been reports of progress from research in this area. See this news article and this paper from the Yelick lab in São Paulo, Brazil.

But much easier than growing teeth should be killing tooth buds. Specifically, if the buds of wisdom teeth were killed then the painful, expensive surgery to remove wisdom teeth could be avoided.

Tooth buds form during fetal development. Wikipedia has a detailed overview. Wisdom teeth don’t begin to calcify until a person is 7 to 10 years of age. It should be fairly easy to kill the tooth bud at early stages. An injection into the tooth bud of a localized cytotoxin, either a general one or perhaps one specific to dividing cells would kill the stem cells that form of the core of the tooth bud. A toxin dose that kills cells within a 1-2 mm radius of the injection site should be effective. The gums will heal up and then the tooth bud will be gone. The dentist should be able to pick the injection location based on the expected eruption site. Inspection of x-rays may help pinpoint the bud location. A jig could be used to precisely position the needle tip.

Googling briefly I don’t see any other mention of this idea. It would be easy to test experimentally in animals if one can be found with late enough tooth development.

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