Adam S. Harwood, DMD byline in
The tooth fairy may have been on to something when she started collecting baby teeth from young children in exchange for loose change. Right now, stem cell researchers see great promise and value in teeth, especially baby teeth, chiefly for the abundant number and quality of the stem cells cached away in them.
Most of the body’s stem cells are difficult to extract, found in fewer numbers, buried deep in tissues adjacent to similar-looking surrounding cells. But stem cells found in teeth are numerous and readily extractible. What’s more, dental stem cells appear to be among the fastest replicating stem cells discovered to date.
Dental stem cells can be easily extracted and preserved for future medical treatments, but what’s really exciting dentistry is recent research that suggests they can be used to regrow teeth lost to decay. Pre-clinical findings suggest that the days of mercury-lade amalgam fillings may be numbered, replaced by a new mixture, containing stem cells, that will stimulate the dental pulp into producing its own replacement tissue.