An eye tooth? Would you believe it?

Every once in a while there is a medical breakthrough – but really – an eye tooth?

We love a good news story here at St Andrews Dental Care and one story which hit the headlines back in 1997 was an unusual transplant which consisted of someones tooth being used to help make someone blind see again.

Ophthalmic surgeon Christopher Lui carried out an operation on a senior gentleman aged 61 years at the time which was hopefully going to help restore the  sight of his right eye. The gentleman had lost his sight aged only 8 years old through smallpox.

The revolutionary procedure first involved the extraction of a canine tooth – favoured because of the curvature of the root. After its removal various modifications were made to the tooth so as to create a shape of a curved rectangular plate with a 4mm diameter hole into which a plastic lens could be fitted.

The next step was to implant this into the cheek of the patient for several months which would allow the tissue to grow into it and then provide a surface that would be suitable for the next stage.

In the second stage of the procedure – the tooth tissue is removed from the cheek and subsequently stitched into place using the cheek graft.

As with many transplants – the human body could reject it – so an advantage of this technique is that a plastic cornea alone would eventually fall out – whereas an autogenic transplant (as this procedure is known) helps the transplant stay in place without the possible problems of rejection.

At the time of this article having been written it was estimated that this procedure could help around 40 people a year in the UK and is known as an Osteo-ordontalkeratoprosthesis.

Now that’s amazing would you agree? Believe it or not one of our very own long standing loyal patients has just had this ground breaking procedure carried out in Brighton. It has given her a whole new lease of life and for the first time in 30 years she has been able to see exactly what we look like. Her first appointment with us after her operation was an emotional one for us all. We are all delighted for you Jackie! Thank you 🙂

Find out more about the technique with the videos below…

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