In Harry Potter, the publican of the Leaky Cauldron is described as toothless. Why is this, given that (as Hermione shows) magic can regrow teeth?

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    We are not told, but perhaps there are curses that prevent the regrowth of teeth even by magic means. – Michael Stern Apr 17 at 0:25
  • Correct, @MichaelStern, we see that a cursed ear cannot regrow (the holy George), so perhaps cursed teeth also can't grow back – Righter Apr 17 at 3:21
  • Curses, sure. Then why can't Harry's eyes be fixed? No anoptometric curses there. – elemtilas Apr 17 at 3:40
  • Perhaps he just ... likes being toothless? It might also not be meant literally, sometimes toothless can simply mean harmless. – Tronman Apr 17 at 6:00
  • @elemtilas There is a theory that Harry's eyes were cursed when Voldemort tried to kill him (i.e. the same curse that caused Harry to become an accidental (not actual) horcrux) – Skooba Apr 17 at 16:19

Magic doesn't seem to be able to reverse the effects of ordinary ageing. Noting that Tom has been the barman since the late 1930s, which means that he must be at least into his 80s at the time of the first novel, if not older.

A little man in a top hat was talking to the old barman, who was quite bald and looked like a gummy walnut.

It's likely that Tom lost his teeth simply as a result of poor tooth hygiene and normal senescence. You might want to note that there's at least one other wizard missing his teeth, an equally elderly Grindlewald.

At once, Harry’s scar felt as though it had split open again. His true surroundings vanished: he was Voldemort, and the skeletal wizard before him [Grindlewald] was laughing toothlessly at him.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Other examples of non-reversible ageing include elderly Amos Diggory using a wheelchair in Cursed Child.

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And older Albus Dumbledore wearing glasses.

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  • Your answer brings up an interesting conundrum between the operation of magic as JKR originally conceived it, how its concept has grown and the human body and how it works. So far, I think you come closest to an answer, yet in the end, I think we've just moved farther away from understanding the underlying fundamentals of what's happening. – elemtilas Apr 17 at 17:08
  • Grindelwald was imprisoned without a wand, and not exactly housed in the best of conditions, so I'm not sure he's necessarily an example of magic being unable to regrow teeth. Even if that were possible it likely wouldn't have been an option for him personally, as he couldn't cast the spell himself and his jailers aren't likely to cast it on him. – Anthony Grist Apr 17 at 17:26
  • @AnthonyGrist - Prisoners are usually afforded good medical care. Them dying is seen as a failing on the part of the state – Valorum Apr 17 at 17:32
  • @Valorum Yeah, I'm pretty sure that prisoners at Azkaban are afforded real good medical care. Grindelwald wasn't in Azkaban, but I don't think Grindelwald, being a tyrannical monster, was afforded any kind of luxury beyond keeping him alive in the worst conditions possible. – Roberto Apr 17 at 18:37
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    @Valorum I think it's pretty much evidenced that in Azkaban the prisoners are left to die, with minimal care. Definitely not doctors. Don't try to compare muggle prisons to magical prisons, because the Wizarding World seems to think that human rights aren't important. – Roberto Apr 17 at 18:43

Because we are not shown that teeth can be regrown.

Hermione did not lose her teeth she was struck with a Densaugeo spell and...

It wasn't a pretty sight. Hermione's front teeth — already larger than average — were now growing at an alarming rate; she was looking more and more like a beaver as they elongated, past her bottom lip, towards her chin — panic-stricken, she felt them, and let out a terrified cry.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

When Madam Pomfrey was shrinking her teeth back down, Hermione simply allowed to be shrunk further than their previous actual size.

Well... when I went up to Madam Pomfrey to get them shrunk, she held up a mirror and told me to stop her when they were back to how they normally were," she said. "And I just... let her carry on a bit." She smiled even more widely. "Mum and Dad won't be too pleased. I've been trying to persuade them to let me shrink them for ages, but they wanted me to carry on with my braces. (ibid)

One can assume that once Tom actually lost his teeth, for whatever reason, they could not be grown back.

A little real science that may explain why we see bone regrowing (i.e. Skele-Gro) and not teeth.

The exterior of bones consists of periosteum, a dense, smooth, slippery membrane that lines the outer surface of most bones , except at the joints of long bones, which instead consist of slimy hyaline cartilage. Periosteum contains osteoblasts, or cells that can manufacture new bone growth and repair.

Tooth enamel, unfortunately, doesn't have the same regenerative powers. Unlike bones, teeth cannot heal themselves or grow back together if they are broken. When a bone fractures , new bone cells rush in to fill the gap and repair the break, but a cracked or a broken tooth can require a root canal or even total extraction.

Why Are Teeth Not Considered Bones? By Remy Melina March 18, 2011

In my theory Skele-Gro may simply activate and accelerate the process of the bone cells and osteoblasts.

  • Yet we know bone can easily, if disgustingly, be regrown. While it's true we're "not shown", the inference is logical that teeth ought to be either magically repaired (if broken) or replaced (if lost) (unless otherwise cursed). We're not shown a great many things about the WW, yet inferences and assumptions can still be made. – elemtilas Apr 17 at 16:33
  • @elemtilas Teeth are not bones and do not have the natural regenerative qualities found in bones. – Skooba Apr 17 at 16:34
  • I know they are not bones, and I never said they were bones! They are related structures, however. – elemtilas Apr 17 at 16:35
  • @elemtilas So why would teeth behave anything like bones, magically repaired or not? – Skooba Apr 17 at 16:36
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    Yes, maybe if Tom had even a tiny sliver of tooth left it could be resized and reshaped to resemble a normal tooth, but once the whole tooth is gone there is no source material to work off of. – Skooba Apr 17 at 16:45

There could be plenty of reasons for this-

  1. Difficulty - Not everyone could be so talented as to grow back teeth from nothing. You can't just grow teeth from nothing. Even if it is possible it has to be very delicate work requiring professional skills.

To be a healer you need N.E.W.T.s of at least grade 'Exceeds Expectations' in the subjects of Transfiguration, Potions, Charms, Herbology and Defence Against the Dark Arts, which isn't an easy thing to do.

This brings us to my second point.

  1. Cost - It surely would cost a lot considering it takes professionals to do it. Just because there is magic doesn't mean everything is possible. And Tom is never shown as a rich guy.

  2. Just why?- A lot of people even in real life are toothless or have a very fixable oral problem. They just don't see the fuss about this harmless problem, nor do they care. Come on, he runs a very busy hotel, he can't just waste a day at St Mungo's.

The example you are referring to is a fairly uncomplicated matter requiring a simple shrinking spell, while Tom's case is different.

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