It must be difficult to be a dentist. No, I’m serious. Yes, they are the only profession to be able to charge for parts and labor and not only have a suggested retail price for their services, but routinely charge 10-15% above it and not be charged with fraud.

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Still, setting that aside, can you imagine what it would be like to do a job where people hate and fear you? Hate, yes (I’m looking at you tax collectors and parking enforcers), fear certainly (police, judges, soldiers, so on and so forth) but both at once?

That takes a special sort of social stigma, especially when the profession in question, including dentistry and three of those mentioned above, are arguably necessary. In addition to a suicide rate higher than many, general dismissal in society and the ever present risk of being bitten by children with sharp little baby teeth, dentists have something new to worry about.

They’re doing what?

Another member of the accidental invention club, is a device that uses ultrasound pulses to regrow dental tissue including, wait for it, teeth. It takes a while and is still in the experimental stage but it is possible to regrow lost teeth. As with so many other miracles of modern medical science we can rebuilt them.

Whats good for the animal is good for the human

The machine invented by a research team at the University of Alberta lead by Dr. Tarak El-Bialy of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, Dr. Jie Chen and Dr. Ying Tsui of the Department of Engineering, was based on a bit of an odd notion. Noticing that other creatures such as salamanders, alligators and sharks can regrow lost teeth, they wondered why humans cannot do the same. Turns out, much like tails, which the human skeleton still shows clear evidence of, this ability is lurking within our genetic code and just needs a bit of a push.

Is the ability to regrow teeth the end of dentistry?

Don’t go throwing your toothbrushes away just yet. While it is definitely possible to regrow teeth in the clinical setting and there is a possibility to have much the same effect at home, it is not quite that simple.

For starters, it is exactly toothbrushes that will give the best chance of providing tooth regrowth at home. Specifically electronic toothbrushes with sonic pulse technology, many of which also come equipped with Bluetooth.

Retailing for between $100 and $300 depending on exact model and what currency one is using, they are not exactly cheap. There is also a matter of power. Even in the clinical model, the technology can take up to three months to completely regrow a tooth and none of the pulse brushes, no matter how fancy, are as powerful as that.

They will probably work, but it will definitely take some tenacity, so it is unlikely that such an innovation will have toothbrush manufacturers and dentistry going the way of telegraph operators. Though it still gives regular citizens an advantage against the near monopoly dentists have in dental care.

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Trevor McNeil spent much of his childhood playing video-games on early-form personal computers back when the disks were literally floppy. He attended the University of Victoria, completing a degree in Social Science with a concentration in Technology In Society, while also writing for the campus newspaper. He has written articles for such diverse publications as Humanity Death Watch, PopMatters and Perfect Sound Forever. He is a veteran of numerous “watershed moments” in the history of technological development and firmly believes that Han shot first.