In many aquatic vertebrates, including bony and cartilaginous fishes, teeth and taste buds colocalize on jaw elements. In these animals, taste buds are renewed continuously throughout life, whereas teeth undergo cycled whole-organ replacement by various means. Recently, studies of cichlid fishes have yielded new insights into the development and regeneration of these dental and sensory oral organs. Tooth and taste bud densities covary positively across species with different feeding strategies, controlled by common regions of the genome and integrated molecular signals. Developing teeth and taste buds share a bipotent epithelium during early patterning stages, from which dental and taste fields are specified. Moreover, these organs share a common epithelial ribbon that supports label-retaining cells during later stages of regeneration. During both patterning and regeneration stages, dental organs can be converted to taste bud fate by manipulation of BMP signaling. These observations highlight a surprising long-term plasticity between dental and sensory organ types. Here, we review these findings and discuss the implications of developmental plasticity that spans the continuum of craniofacial organ patterning and regeneration.