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I speak from an almost limitless depth of ignorance when I say
one of the main problems with prostheses is attaching them to the
body. Artificial limbs which strap on over the flesh-covered stump
can chafe, and are difficult to secure rigidly in place.
Ideally, the prosthesis (or at
least a fixing socket therefore)
be attached directly to the bone. This can be done, but is not at
easy, because the prosthesis must pass through the skin, and this is
potential route for the ingress of infection.
Teeth, however, have got this problem sorted. Although the tooth
protrudes from your fleshy, bloody inside, through your gums and
into the bacteria-laden outside world, it is not often a source of
infection if properly maintained.
I note also that some progress has been made in inducing tooth
formation in various tissues, either by transplanting tooth buds or
simply by using growth factors which induce tooth formation.
I additionally note that the exposed parts of teeth can be
much like any other inert ceramic, without causing any problems.
The plan is to develop this into a way of growing teeth at the site
an amputation. With luck (and some lax legislation), it should be
possible to create a decent cluster of teeth on the end of the
rooted nicely in the underlying bone. These teeth can then be
drilled, capped and generally tinkered with to create an
engineerially sound socket for the attachment of a prosthesis.
This is on frogs. As a bonus, the French create plenty of amputee frogs on which to test the aproach. [MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 18 2010]
Prosthesis technology based on deer antlers
Intraosseous Transcutaneous Amputation Prosthesis [Spacecoyote, Jul 19 2010]
||//With luck (and some lax legislation), it should be
||//Teeth, however have got this problem sorted.// Not sure
it's the teeth that have got it sorted -- it might be the gums
(also the salivary glands & tongue).
||Bun, just for the use of the term "...engineerially sound..." [+]
||Agreed, and it's presumably a combination of the two which
provides a suitable interface/barrier. But tooth-induction
generally also induces the full repertoire of associated
structures, more or less.
||Of course, fingernails are another possibility. But if I were an
amputee, I think I'd find a stump with teeth rather exciting.
||Fingernails aren't attached to the bones, and so would probably provide insufficient support.
||Anyway, if the salivary glands are involved in keeping infection at bay, then as long as we are dreaming we could implant some of those in the relevant site as well. of course, then your stump would drool constantly, but perhaps some sort of sealed or absorbent covering could handle that.
||I also forsee a need for prosthetic toothpaste and brushes. You wouldn't want to get cavities on your legs.
||Good point about fingernails. Horns would be an option, but
since humans don't normally grow horns, there's probably no
easy way to induce them to grow.
||"Ah Mister Frobisher... the bad news is that we need to extract several of your tooth. However, the good news is that once we have amputated one of your arms, we can grow you a new set of teeth of the stump. Now did you say you were left or right handed?" +