Why won’t my teeth grow back?

When hair gets cut, it grows back. When nails get clipped, they grow back. When baby teeth fall out, adult ones grow in. So, as an adult, if a tooth gets pulled, cracked, or decays past the point of being structurally sound, why won’t it just grow back? What is so different about those hard, bony,enamel-coated structures in my jaw that makes them impossible to regenerate once removed? In a simple, one-word answer: nature.

Teeth are amongst the most long lasting features in mammals, human in particular. Primary teeth erupt into the mouth from around six months until two years of age. These teeth are the only ones in the mouth until a person is about six years old. It is then that the first permanent molar commonly erupts. The rest of the baby teeth fall out over time, being replaced by adult teeth, usually through the age of fourteen. Then that’s it. New teeth will never grow in or erupt from your gums again. As human beings, we are known as Diphyodont. Essentially, that means an animal with two successive sets of teeth. The deciduous (first set), consecutively followed by the permanent. After the second or permanent set, there is no third. Aside from humans, most mammals are Diphyodont, as they require a full set of durable teeth to chew food. In contrast, some species are known as Polyphyodont, meaning an animal whose teeth are continuously replaced. Reptiles and most other vertebrates, fall under this category. Sharks in particular, have an estimated couple thousand of teeth in their lifetime. Lastly, there is Monophyodont, meaning only one set of teeth erupt and stay for life. This is the case with most rodents.

Unless you have a freak circumstance of extra adult teeth hiding away in your gums, (which can be detected by x-rays) do not expect a new tooth to replace a lost, damaged or extracted permanent tooth. That is why our last set are called “permanent” teeth; we won’t ever get new ones. It’s just the way we were created. So, it’s extra important to take care of what we’ve been given!

This article has been submitted on behalf of Florida cosmetic dentist Dr. Sam Sadati, www.floridasmiles.com