A patient recently sent me this article that is right up my alley. See, most people that know me know that I am fascinated by sharks, and love to interact with and photograph them whenever I get the chance. Naturally, since I am a dentist, any story that combines sharks and dentistry will command my attention.
It is estimated that sharks lose and re-grow thousands of teeth in their lifetime. Their teeth, unlike humans, are not attached to bone, so they fall out all the time and typically have their replacements waiting to move into position. We basically replace our baby teeth (primary teeth) plus a few more and that’s it for us humans.
So some scientists with more free time than I have and lots of imagination decided to figure out how sharks are able to grow all these teeth. What they found is that there seems to be a single gene involved in this process, but when it is “active” it seems to trigger the growth of additional teeth. Apparently it’s just a starting point, but who knows, maybe we’ll be able to replace missing teeth in the future. If that happens, then my four years of dental school will have been in vain ….