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Competition for the Tooth Fairy

Published Online: Friday, August 1, 2003   [ Request Print ]

Researchers at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research have discovered that baby teeth contain a rich supply of stem cells in their dental pulp that remain vital for a short period after a child loses a tooth. These cells, known as Stem cells from Human Exfoliated Deciduous teeth (SHED), grow quickly in culture and have the potential to create specialized dentin, bone, and neuronal cells. Because these cells differ from the cells of adult teeth, the researchers speculate that SHED are part of the early development process. As for the future of stem cells from baby teeth, researchers hope that further study could lead to new advances in repairing damaged teeth, including regeneration and treatment for neural injury and disease.

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