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Stop the Tooth Fairy

Those Shed Baby Teeth Hold Valuable Stem Cells
By
WebMD Health News

April 21, 2003 -- The tooth fairy may be getting a bargain. There are valuable stem cells in lost baby teeth.

As medical research advances, there's a growing appreciation of what stem cells can do. These early cells haven't changed much since birth. Different types of stem cells can turn into different parts of the body. The most versatile stem cells can turn into any cell of the body. It's already possible to grow these cells to large numbers in the laboratory.

Researchers are on the verge of being able to use stem cells in the brain, pancreas, heart, and other organs to repair damage caused by disease. The big problem is where to get the cells. There's already interest in harvesting stem cells from a baby's umbilical cord and storing them away as an insurance policy against future disease or injury.

Now it looks as though there's another source of these precious cells. Maybe the tooth fairy knew it all along. But it took a research team lead by Songtao Shi, DDS, PhD, to find out her secret. They report their findings in the April 21 early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Shi and colleagues a the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research knew that one kind of stem cell lives inside adult teeth. They reasoned that a different kind of stem cell might live in baby teeth. So they collected newly shed baby teeth from 7- and 8-year-old kids. Inside the teeth, they found what they were looking for.

The stem cells they found "are completely different from previously identified stem cells," Shi and colleagues write. "[Shed] teeth may be an unexpected, unique resource for stem-cell therapies."

The researchers say baby teeth stem cells in baby teeth grow faster and more numerous that adult teeth stem cells.

Shi's team calls the new cells SHED, for "stem cells from human exfoliated deciduous teeth."

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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