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Dublin: 4°C Friday 14 May 2021

Teeth pulled for stem cell harvest

Some parents in the US have been bringing their children to have baby teeth removed in the hopes that stem cells harvested from them might help with future health problems.

Image: Osamu Iwasaki via Creative Commons

PARENTS IN THE US are paying up to $600 (€445) to have their children’s baby teeth pulled out in order to harvest them for stem cells.

The teeth are then frozen – for an extra $100 or so a year – and stored for use in the treatment possible future health problems. It is believed that the teeth could be used later to regrow lost teeth, or even to repair damaged bones, hearts, pancreases, muscles and brains, the Miami Herald reports.

The teeth must be removed before they fall out naturally, as they must have a blood supply.

Oral surgeon Dr Jeffrey Blum told the newspaper: “These are teeth we’ve been discarding as dental waste. We might as well get some use out of them.”

Teeth are a rich source of stem cells, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health in 2003. However, as yet, such stem cell use has not been sanctioned by the FDA – that will take another five years.

The American Dental Association said that it was cautiously optimistic, UPI.com reports. However, it warned parents to carefully consider the costs involved in undertaking the removal and storage of the teeth.

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