Expert Commentary: John J. Kelly, DDS 10/27/2009
After reading the news about this discovery it became apparent how this type of technology may be applied to future dental health care. Issues where tooth enamel has broken down from erosion, decay, diet, poor hygiene, and function this type of enamel replacement may be significant. Also, this genetic research might apply to complete replacement of missing teeth and some genetic deficiencies such as Ameleogenisis Imperfecta.
The concerns that I might have come from more a long term functional perspective. How would we prevent enamel wear from re-occurring or how will we provide a healthy environment for the enamel to proliferate? The new enamel can replace missing structures, but in some cases there is no room to build back what was lost. Once enamel has either been worn down, or decayed away a collapse occurs. Our muscles that support the jaw change, and the way our teeth fit together adapt to this new dysfunctional state. Repairing the enamel is one thing, but to give back what was lost as far as function requires more understanding. Unfortunately, dentistry tends to look at patients simply as teeth that need to be fixed without understanding the far-reaching aspects of function and physiology.
While there is a lot of work ahead before the science moves from the research lab to the dental office, this does provide hope for people who have flawed tooth enamel including those who have lost their teeth.
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