Teeth pulled out & being saved for their stem cells

MIAMI (UPI) — A new medical movement has U.S. dentists extracting teeth for their stem cells they believe can someday be used to cure any number of ailments, experts say.

Stem cells are spun out of extracted baby teeth, wisdom teeth and even healthy adult teeth, frozen to 100 degrees below zero and stored for possible future use, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

Florida resident Naidelys Montoya is one of those taking advantage of the process.

The Hialeah woman didn’t wait for her son’s baby teeth to fall out but took the boy to an oral surgeon to have two of the loose ones extracted for their stem cells in case her son Raul Estrada, 6, might need them for a future illness, she says.

“I believe in this,” Montoya said. “I did as a precaution against things that could happen in the future.”

Many question the procedure.

It’s expensive, costing $590 upfront and $100 a year to store stem cells from up to four teeth for up to 20 years.

And it’s speculative, with the first FDA-approved practical use of such stem cells likely years away.

Still, supporters are confident in the worth of the process.

“I can’t help but feel excitement for their potential use in regenerating different tissues in the human body,” Dr. Jeremy Mao, director of the Regenerative Medicine Laboratory at Columbia University, said.

Mao also is chief science adviser to StemSave, a New York City company that freezes the stem cells and stores them for later use, the Herald reported.

The American Dental Association, while cautiously optimistic about the potential of dental stem cells, urges parents to consider both the cost and the rarity of use.

“That’s the question people have to ask themselves,” said Dr. Jeffrey Blum, the Miami Beach oral surgeon who pulled Raul Estrada’s teeth.

“Am I saving this for no reason? Is it worth what I’m paying? Essentially it’s an insurance policy.”

Copyright 2011 by United Press International

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

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