In humans, there is a normal cycle with teeth. We have none as newborns. Through the excruciating process of teething, they erupt gradually until, as toddlers, people have a full head of baby teeth. Then, as adult teeth push up and out of the gums in elementary school, these start to wiggle and come loose. While it is ideal for us to have all of our teeth for our entire lives, age, cavities, and trauma can result in tooth loss. The greatest options available right now to close these gaps are implants and dentures. Regrowing our own teeth, however, is a novel solution being studied by a Japanese company. They believe that by creating a novel medication, the human body will be stimulated to replace its own teeth as needed.
"Tooth regeneration antibody drug based on research results of Dr. Katsu Takahashi, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Kyoto University," is what the company, Toregem Biopharma, claims to be working on developing. Teeth buds develop into adult teeth in babies at birth. Undeveloped tooth buds are retained by some adults. The medication that the company created makes use of this ability. The USAG-1 gene, whose regular function is to prevent these overabundant buds from developing into teeth, interacts with the antibody. The bud should then develop into teeth by stopping the gene from doing its job.
In a 2018 study, the medication caused ferrets to grow new teeth. Although the drug has not yet been tested on humans, the company intends to test it in 2025 as a treatment for children with anodontia, a condition in which they are unable to grow adult teeth. “The idea of growing new teeth is every dentist's dream,” company co-founder Dr. Takahashi, told Japanese newspaper The Mainichi. "This has been a project of mine since I was a doctoral student." For people who have lost teeth due to trauma or illnesses like hypodontia, such a treatment could be revolutionary. In the future—possibly even by 2030—restoring that complete smile might be as easy as taking a pill, provided Toregem Biopharma's plans come to pass.