Stem cells from wisdom teeth could save your life

Stem cells from wisdom teeth could save your life

Posted: Updated:
LUBBOCK, Texas -

Most people have to get their wisdom teeth out, thinking it is nothing more than just getting rid of their final set of molars. However, those teeth could potentially save your life.

Doctors are now harvesting stem cells through wisdom teeth. Oral and facial surgeon Robert Ioppolo said the highest concentration of stem cells is stored within nerve tissue found in the teeth. 

For Jake Gerber, a 17-year-old high school athlete, the procedure could help seal his athletic future. 

"When an individual is young like Jake, they have a large amount of that pulp tissue so it allows this company, Stemodonics to go in and extract that tissue, multiply it, re-use it for the future of stem cell research and development," Ioppolo said. 

Ioppolo said it is common for athletes to then use these cells to treat injuries. 

"It's something that they've been using for awhile now to rehabilitate injuries without surgery by simply doing an injection of stem cells and allowing those cells that are undifferentiated, they haven't become anything yet, the body then signals them to become the type of injury they need to be to repair the injury," Ioppolo said. 

Gerber has seen it work with his own teammate. 

"He had torn something in his knee and he did that and he was back three weeks later in football season," Gerber said. 

Aside from injuries, Ioppolo said these stem cells can treat Alzheimer's, Arthritis, Parkinson's, Crohn's Disease, and brain injuries.

"It's a procedure that they're gonna undergo anyway to get their wisdom teeth out," Ioppolo said. "It's extremely common, 14 to 18-years-old is the ideal time to look for doing it, and so while we're there, just put them in the right packaging and send them off to processing and we can do two birds with one stone." 

After learning all of this, it was not a hard decision for Gerber. After getting his teeth removed Monday, they will be shipped to California where the company, Stemodonics will then store it. 

Ioppolo said he is the only doctor providing the extraction in Lubbock but said it is very common in larger cities. 

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