Let's Get Wise

Wisdom teeth are the last set of molars in your mouth and they usually erupt between the ages of 17-25. Anthropologists believe that these teeth were for the grinding of roots and meat that were in our ancestors’ diets. Because of the modern diet and silverware, we don’t need the teeth anymore and dentists recommend getting them removed between the ages of 15-17. If they aren’t removed and they erupt, they can cause problems like overcrowding and bacterial infection. Even if the teeth don’t erupt, they can cause cysts and tumors in the gums. These problems are because our mouthes and jaws have become smaller because of evolution. 
In wisdom teeth that are pulled, scientists can extract the dental pulp that is inside the tooth which contains stem cells. Stem cells are important because they are cells that can be turned into other cells to help cure diseases or problems. The stem cells that are in the teeth can help with curing bone and cartilage diseases, type 1 diabetes, and neurological diseases. An important way that these stem cells can help someone are by being used in corneal transplant. Corneal transplants are needed when the cornea of the eye is cloudy, resulting in vision problems and blindness. In a corneal transplant, the cornea is removed and replaced with one from a donor. While this works for the most part, there are cases where the eye rejects the transplant or there isn’t a donor cornea. Scientists have found that the stem cells in the teeth can be made into corneal stromal cells also called keratocytes and that these cells can be used instead of a donor cornea. The scientists tried this procedure out on mice and it worked without rejection.
These findings are very useful because this can prevent people from freaking out about stem cell research with embryos because now there is an alternative. This is also good because it provides a solution for the lack of cornea donors and it can result in more people with better eyesight. Since almost everyone gets their wisdom teeth taken out, there isn't a lack of supply of stem cells and the procedure isn't as controversial.