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Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol. 2013 Mar-Apr;2(2):165-82. doi: 10.1002/wdev.63. Epub 2012 May 3.

From molecules to mastication: the development and evolution of teeth.

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Department of Orofacial Sciences and Program in Craniofacial and Mesenchymal Biology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.


Teeth are unique to vertebrates and have played a central role in their evolution. The molecular pathways and morphogenetic processes involved in tooth development have been the focus of intense investigation over the past few decades, and the tooth is an important model system for many areas of research. Developmental biologists have exploited the clear distinction between the epithelium and the underlying mesenchyme during tooth development to elucidate reciprocal epithelial/mesenchymal interactions during organogenesis. The preservation of teeth in the fossil record makes these organs invaluable for the work of paleontologists, anthropologists, and evolutionary biologists. In addition, with the recent identification and characterization of dental stem cells, teeth have become of interest to the field of regenerative medicine. Here, we review the major research areas and studies in the development and evolution of teeth, including morphogenesis, genetics and signaling, evolution of tooth development, and dental stem cells.

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