Despite advances in the knowledge of tooth morphogenesis and differentiation, relatively little is known about the aetiology and molecular mechanisms underlying supernumerary tooth formation. A small number of supernumerary teeth may be a common developmental dental anomaly, while multiple supernumerary teeth usually have a genetic component and they are sometimes thought to represent a partial third dentition in humans. Mice, which are commonly used for studying tooth development, only exhibit one dentition, with very few mouse models exhibiting supernumerary teeth similar to those in humans. Inactivation of Apc or forced activation of Wnt/β(catenin signalling results in multiple supernumerary tooth formation in both humans and in mice, but the key genes in these pathways are not very clear. Analysis of other model systems with continuous tooth replacement or secondary tooth formation, such as fish, snake, lizard, and ferret, is providing insights into the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying succesional tooth development, and will assist in the studies on supernumerary tooth formation in humans. This information, together with the advances in stem cell biology and tissue engineering, will pave ways for the tooth regeneration and tooth bioengineering.
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