Have you ever had a tooth knocked out? If you do, the odds are good that you actually had it put back in. In many cases, a knocked-out tooth will remain viable for hours, and once put back in the socket it may reattach and remain a healthy functional, tooth.
But if that’s the case, why don’t we transplant teeth instead of relying on dental implants?
We Do in Some Cases
There are rare cases where tooth transplants are the right decision. Normally, it’s done to transplant a tooth from one place in a person’s mouth to another place in the same mouth.
Where this is really advantageous is in filling gaps in a child’s smile, where the growing and changing jaw is a tricky environment for dental implants, but natural teeth handle it just fine.
Contamination Is a Problem
But when we are considering transplanting a tooth from one person to another, we’ve got a major concern with contamination. The mouth is an environment full of bacteria, and they’re contagious. It would be very challenging to move a tooth from one person to another and not bring over serious contamination with oral bacteria. And there’s a risk that attempts to sterilize the tooth could end up killing it.
Aesthetics Is a Problem
Tooth transplants are also difficult to match cosmetically. Everyone has a unique shade and luster to their teeth, and putting another person’s tooth in your smile is just unlikely to match properly. And it’s not just the color. The shape and size of teeth has a certain personality. It would be hard to find a candidate for tooth transplantation whose tooth would match yours.
Obviously, this is not a problem in most cases of other transplants. No one is going to see that your heart or kidney doesn’t match. For face transplant recipients, the new face is a dramatic improvement over their damaged or poorly formed face. The problem of matching is just too serious compared to the benefits of the tooth transplant.
Healthy Donors Is a Problem
But even if we overcome the problem of aesthetics by finding a person whose teeth match in terms of size and shape, they’re probably not healthy enough to merit transplanting. After all, most Americans have some degree of decay in many of their teeth, as well as wear or erosion by acidic foods and beverages. The result is that, most people’s teeth would just simply not be worth transplanting.
Dental Implants Work
And our decision is influenced by the fact that we actually have an artificial tooth solution that solves all these problems. Dental implants are sterile, can easily be made to look beautiful and match your natural teeth, and they’re brand new, so there’s no wear or health problems in the dental implant.
And, to top it all off, they’re more successful that tooth transplants. While tooth transplants have a long-term success rate of around 90%, dental implant success rate is about 93% over the long term. And since dental implants have a longer life than we know, there’s no reason to consider transplanting natural teeth.
Given all these factors, tooth transplants are just not worth the trouble.