We know that holistic dentistry aims to preserve healthy smiles through minimally invasive procedures. This usually means that drilling, grinding, and tooth removal are avoided whenever possible. Holistic professionals believe in preserving the body in its natural state for many reasons, longevity being at the top of the list. However, new research shows an almost unimaginable benefit to preserving your natural body: Keeping your wisdom teeth, the four rear-most molars of the upper and lower jaw, preserves copious amounts of tissue rich in stem cells!
Comments by Dr. Ted Herrmann:
As a Miami dentist and holistic health professional, I err on the side of caution when contemplating tooth removal. At Assure a Smile, teeth are never removed, shaped, or drilling unless it is absolutely necessary. There are several reasons for this, including:
- You get only one set of permanent teeth, and each has only so much enamel.
- Once enamel is gone, it’s gone. You cannot regenerate the enamel of a tooth.
- It is sensible to do all we can to preserve permanent teeth and their enamel to promote long term oral health.
New studies, however, indicate an added benefit to keeping your teeth. Researchers at the Japan National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology have found the tissue of the 3rd molars, commonly known as wisdom teeth, to be ideal candidates from which stem cells can be obtained (i).
Stem cells are cellular structures that are capable of growing into various specialized cell types. Stem cells have an almost infinite application in modern medicine, as they can be programmed to develop into any number of specific structures. Doctors hope to use stem cells to further many fields of research pertaining to cancer, diabetes, and organ replacement.
Obtaining stem cells is difficult. The most versatile are known as embryonic stem cells and can be obtained only from an embryo. However, many feel that it is immoral to extract these cells from a human embryo, greatly limiting modern medicine’s ability to further research their application.
Obtaining adult stem cells is somewhat easier, as they may be harvested from an individual’s skin cells or bone marrow. These processes have limitations as well; skin cells do not propagate nearly as well as other stem cells, and bone marrow extraction has several serious inherent risks.
Wisdom teeth, however, may be the best source of adult stem cells. The Japenese research time found wisdom teeth to have a substantial population of mesenchymal stromal cells similar, but much more accessible, to bone marrow (ii). This marks an exciting discovery of a new, viable, and available source of adult stem cells.
(ii) See above.