How Can Alligators Regrow Teeth But Humans Cannot?

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Did you know alligators can regenerate a lost tooth fifty times? How is it possible they can and we can’t? In this article, we’ll delve into why and how exactly alligators are able to regrow their teeth — and explore if that’ll ever be a possibility for us, too.

Why Exactly Can an Alligator Regrow Its Teeth But We Can’t?

Alligators have remarkably similar teeth to newborn humans. The animals have an adult tooth and a “baby” tooth that acts as a replacement in case they lose a tooth. This is s similar structure to what we have when we’re firstborn. However, unlike us, they also have a stem cell that can become a replacement tooth, and we don’t.

“When the mature tooth falls out, the second one becomes a mature one, and the stem cell becomes a baby one. Interestingly, they are able to do this process repeatedly,” explains University of Southern California researcher Cheng Ming Chuong. “In humans, we have a similar structure when we’re born, but we don’t have any stem cell there under normal conditions.”

Will It Ever Be Possible for Humans to Regrow Their Teeth Like an Alligator?

Chuong’s study is looking into this exact question. The team is trying to find out if we can stimulate a similar cycle in adult humans so that we automatically replace teeth.

“In a way, our hair can keep regenerating multiple times in our life. But human teeth only have one chance when we change from [baby] teeth to permanent teeth,” he says. “The motivation for studying this is so that we’ll one day be able to do this.”

Research into regenerative medicine is still in its beginning stages. However, Chuong says it’s certainly possible that one day scientists will be able to inject molecules or hormones that can cause humans to create new teeth.

“We have to understand the molecular pathway involved,” he says. “We will need the ability to position and control the process in a strategic way.”

But until that day comes, modern dentistry has many solutions to the problem of missing teeth, from crowns and bridges to implants. If you have any issues with missing teeth, set up at the appointment with our team by contacting Highline Dental today!


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