And the tooth will set you free!

Dear Tooth Fairy: You can't handle the tooth! (At least not if a new research idea becomes popular)
Dear Tooth Fairy: You can't handle the tooth! (At least not if a new research idea becomes popular)Courtesy Rev Dan Catt
A new study just published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry says our third molars - aka wisdom teeth - could serve as an excellent source for stem cells. Rather than yanking them out and discarding them (often under our pillows), the molars could be kept as a repository of stem cells for our own use in regenerative medicine. The Japanese study, which was led by Yasuaki Oda, states cloned cells derived from wisdom teeth closely resemble embryonic stem cells.

It sounds like wise use of what's otherwise considered medical waste, but don't be surprised if the Tooth Fairies' Union says it bites.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

That's a really cool idea. Won't help me, though, if I ever need a source of stem cells -- x-rays show that I don't have any wisdom teeth. Turns out that agenesis of wisdom teeth is pretty common, at least in certain populations.

posted on Fri, 09/10/2010 - 1:43pm
mdr's picture
mdr says:

I find it really interesting that, in terms of evolution, some of us still have too many teeth for our reduced jaw sizes. My youngest brother needed to have several teeth removed before braces were installed because his mouth was too jammed up.

Also, it's amazing how some of our technologies (i.e. the discovery of fire and the cooking of food) dramatically changed our digestion process, and hence our physiology. We just don't need to do as much chewing as we used to.

posted on Fri, 09/10/2010 - 5:18pm
Shana's picture
Shana says:

Oh man, mine are long gone!!

posted on Fri, 09/10/2010 - 3:59pm
mdr's picture
mdr says:

Interestingly, I still have two on my upper and lower left side that replaced molars I had ground down to nothing when I was about 15 or 16 years old. Way to be on top of things, Mom. (In all honesty, my older brother was in the Vietnam War at the time, so I try to cut my parents some slack for their lack of attention to the rest of us during that time.)

posted on Fri, 09/10/2010 - 4:53pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i'm suprised that a wisdom tooth is a good source for stem cells. I would like to know how long did it take for the japanese to study and provide very useful information about the wisdom tooth.

posted on Wed, 09/15/2010 - 1:20pm

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