Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Baby teeth for science

Looks like the tooth fairy may have competition for all those baby teeth she collects. Researchers at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research have found that stem cells can be extracted from the pulp inside the little choppers. The discovery was made when a researcher's six-year-old lost a tooth, and Dad noticed there was still some living pulp inside it. Subsequent lost teeth went straight to the lab, and the discovery of the stem cells within may lead to advances in the repair of damaged teeth, regeneration of bone and the curing of neurological diseases. And of course, while applauding this great scientific breakthrough, as a mom I have to wonder: Did this scientist-father convince his daughter and various little friends to give up their teeth for the good of the public health, or did he sneak in their bedrooms at night and snatch them from under their pillows? Did he give better than tooth-fairy rates, since the teeth were being put to work and not, say, into a drawer? And, most importantly, is there a place that other parents can go to cash in their own offspring's tiny teeth? My daughter's got a complete set of the adult version, but my son's still got a bunch to lose. We'll see if the tooth fairy wants to negotiate.

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