Genetics and Teeth
By Dr. Colin P. Lentz, DDS - Lanier Valley Dentistry
Everyone has heard of test tube babies. The first TT baby was Louise Joy Brown, born 25 July 1978, she will celebrate her 34th birthday this next week. She is a scientific breakthrough for families that are trying to grow but are unable to conceive. Much like the ability to grow humans we are starting to get close to the ability to grow body parts. Through the study of stem cell research we are gradually getting closer to the ability to grow new teeth in vivo (in our own bodies). Crazy huh?
Well it's true.
One of the mysteries of developmental biology is how a single egg can grow and develop into a complex organism. And not only that, but how the mechanisms responsible for developing our organs and our body parts so capable of knowing when to start and stop. Just like any body part, development of the tooth is very reliant upon this starting and stopping process. If the genetic markers are not there to turn the tooth development process off, our body would continue to make enamel without end. Can you imagine someone covered completely in enamel!
The start and stop process is exactly what we are trying to understand. A stem cell has all the information to make a human. So how can we start a very specific process of development such as tooth formation? How can we get this part of development to occur but suppress the rest of development from that stem cell? It is one thing to put two gametes together (Eg: a sperm and an egg) and let them develop into a human being. The cells are engineered to know what to do. But now, we are starting to figure out how to turn things on and off and how to promote this growth and inhibit that growth. It is this kind of manipulation of our cells that will lead to the ability to genetically fabricate teeth and implant them into our body to grow just like they did when we were kids.
Dr. Lentz is the owner of Lanier Valley Dentistry in Hamilton Mill, Dacula, Georgia and winner of Best of Gwinnett - Voted best dental office by Gwinnett Magazine.
3625 Braselton Hwy, #102, Dacula (Hamilton Mill), 30019
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