Human beings (according to one of our dental writers anyway) are “truly weird”.

At some point – possibly the present, which has been scientifically nominated as January 1, 1950 – there has been exponential expansion in science and technology. Ostensibly, it appears to be based on some universal perception that whatever is, or was, is simply not good enough.

It’s a curious perspective.

Just consider that by the early 1970s, only 50% of homes had their own phone. Within that decade, having one phone in the house just wasn’t good enough. Telephone extensions were needed because somehow legs, or privacy, or both suddenly needed protecting.

By the mid ‘80s we were all recording our apologies for not being home to answer any of the phones that were there; asking for numbers to be left so that we could get back to them as soon as possible. Unless it was a message from the northern suburbs, not one of those numbers started with a 9.

Within very short order, even that kind of automation wasn’t good enough.

Personal pagers became de rigueur because all of a sudden everyone and everything was important. It was the 90s, man!

VCRs made sure that no show would be missed. Answering machines guaranteed no call would be overlooked. Pagers prodded nascent nudges that in time, time itself would cease to be our own.

Instead, it would be dictated by digital demands that would eventually prove that actuality and integrity are not at all what AI stands for.

Intelligence itself has become a fairly pliable term.

In his 2020 book ‘Birth of Intelligence’, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Neuroeconomics, Daeyeol Lee traces the development of the brain and intellect from self-replicating RNA across different species, humans, and even technology to address fundamental questions on the sources, progression and limitations of intelligence.

Its definition can be misleading, and it can be meaningless.

For example, there is no valid linear intelligence scale for species, because intelligence is a combination of species-relevant evolution, disciplinary tools, anatomy and physiology.

We do, however, use many models in order to make predictions for decision-making – a key component of intelligence.

For example, there are precise mathematical values used by economists to forecast options or actions that clarify complex behaviours required in deciding a favourable outcome.

There is also the principal-agent theory, which explains why learning emerges as a solution to resolve a conflict between the brain and genetics. There’s game theory too; which critically deciphers why being in a social setting makes the ability to form a useful decision so challenging.

Buried in all of this, must be some explanation for how easily dissatisfied we have become.

So much so, that research has us now looking to an horizon where human augmentation to boost normal function and capabily, is achievable by the addition of robotic body parts.

And you thought this was just going to be about the last five years of King’s College London, investigating natural tooth regeneration.

It’s certainly all good stuff, thanks to the drug Tideglusib – a GSK-3 inhibitor originally considered as a treatment for neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease.

While we’re very used to the idea of having two sets of teeth, science is making significant progress in regenerative medicine and new drugs that make both tooth repair, and complete tooth regrowth completely possible.

Researchers at King’s College used biodegradable collagen sponges to apply low doses of the inhibitor drug to the damaged tooth. It stimulated the growth of new dentine, and the sponge was eventually replaced by complete and natural tooth repair.

It’s a treatment expected to be available in dental clinics by the year 2030.

Regenerative medicine holds the promise of healing 80 individual diseases in the near future.

And while that’s all happening, the idea of having an extra arm or two, an additional thumb, or a couple of other fingers is what drives Tamar Makin, professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Cambridge University.

In the name of increased productivity, the future offers options to wear and independently control, extra limbs and fingers: no doubt while you’re repairing and regrowing your own teeth.

Rather than asking someone to lend you a hand, you’ll be able to buy one, wear one and give the finger to the preservation and sharing of the milk of human kindness that according to his wife, Macbeth was so despairingly replete.

Within a decade or so, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility to be able to open the fridge and simultaneously hold that milk bottle, unscrew the lid, pour some into a cup and unspillingly reverse that entire order of action.

And why? Because why not. We applaud the more the more.

And this 3D-printed thumb has precedence.

It’s already been created by Professor Makin’s colleague Dani Clode, and is able to be added to any hand.

Part of Homo cyberneticus, it is the future of body augmentation. It has been suggested that this extra thumb, opposite the opposable one we already have, would be a highly useful addition for the likes of a soldering engineer for instance, or a plate-carrying waiter, or a dentist implanting a tooth or two.

Unlike using a spade to increase the ability to dig a hole, robotic body parts cannot be hand-operated.

Clode’s extra thumb is connected to two wrist-based motors and a battery, with a microcontroller on the upper arm. It’s wirelessly linked to controllers on the user’s shoes or ankles, which are coupled to pressure sensors under each big toe. Pressing on them controls the thumb.

There are plans for other robotic parts to be designed for specific workplace needs. Extra arms for builders; extra hands for dental surgeons; extra fingers for oral hygienists.

The combination of bioprinting, and stem cell technology is dramatically advancing healthcare to a completely new stratosphere that will truly begin by the next decade.

It’s a future as unable to be accurately predicted as the result of that first machine answering calls we weren’t there to take.
Regenerative medicine is changing this ever-changing world.

Umbilical cord blood is now commonly stored at blood banks for the later harvesting of stem cells, with new harvesting techniques being developed. Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina have recently discovered a method of retrieving stem cells from baby teeth; all useful in expanding the possibilities and probabilities of tissue engineering.

It’s all so easy to not remember how it used to be: before mobile phones, before 24-hour everything, before many things on demand and the demand of many things.

What we seem to be forgetting is that when we choose to be a good human, being human is good enough; and that all progress, whether psychological or psysiological, raises new questions.

When we can naturally repair our own teeth, will we forget how to properly care for them?

That’s something to brush up on.

What does it do to the nervous system when toes are reappropriated as an extra thumb? Does it affect the ability of the toe to be a toe? How much human are we not, when we’re not all human?

Front Office Coordinator Rebecca - Melbourne Dental House

Hi, you're chatting with Rebecca. If you could please fill out all your details below, I will be in contact with you shortly.

Patient Status(Required)
Preferred Contact Method:
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Dental House Webinar

Achieving the Smile You Love Webinar

Thinking of upgrading your smile but not sure what to expect? Watch this webinar as Dr Antonoff takes you through 3 patients’ smiles he transformed right here in Melbourne.

Dental House Price List

Download Price List

Please enter your mobile number and email address so we can send you the price list via SMS and email along with some of our patients’ smile transformations in the next few minutes.

Download Free Price List

Please enter your email so we can send you the price list in the next few minutes

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Achieving the Smile You Love Webinar

Thinking of upgrading your smile but not sure what to expect? Watch this webinar as Dr Antonoff takes you through 3 patients’ smiles he transformed right here in Melbourne

You have Successfully Subscribed!