MIAMI (CBS4) – In a move that would put the Tooth Fairy in the unemployment line, doctors now say they can extract stem cells from teeth.
In South Florida and around the country, dentists are pulling baby teeth, wisdom teeth and even normal adult teeth and sending them to labs to have the stem cells spun out of them.
Doctors say those stem cells can be used to regrow lost teeth and someday even repair damaged bones, hearts, pancreases, muscles and brains, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
Here’s how it works: dentists extract healthy teeth and immediately ship them in a temperature-controlled steel container to a lab in Massachusetts. In the lab, the teeth are spun out and frozen to more than 100 degrees below zero. They are then stored for future use.
“These are teeth we’ve been discarding as dental waste,” said Miami Beach oral surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Blum, “We might as well get some use out of them.”
Not all teeth qualify for the stem cell preservation. The teeth must be pulled before they fall out naturally so that the blood supply is preserved, allowing them to stay healthy.
The cost may also be a big deterrent. It is $590 up front, with a $100 annual fee to keep the stem cells from up to four teeth in storage for up to 20 years.
But for mothers, like Hialeah resident Naidelys Montoya, the cost is equivalent to a necessary insurance policy for her 6 year-old son Raul Estrada.
“I believe in this,” Montoya said. “I did as a precaution against things that could happen in the future.”