Stem Cells in Teeth Have the Potential to Save Lives, Too
Teeth play very valuable roles in the human body, from chewing food to keeping the jaw bones strong and healthy. But now scientists have revealed that your teeth could actually save your life. Similar to concept of harvesting stem cells from the umbilical cord after delivery and banking them in case of a health emergency in the future, healthy teeth can be saved for decades and harnessed for their stem cells if needed.
A Brief Background About Cord Blood Banking
Cord blood is held in the umbilical cord upon birth and is highly concentrated with fresh, powerful stem cells that can be used to treat a number of diseases and disorders. The extraction of the blood is painless and simple, and it is then sent to a blood bank to be safely stored until the day it might be needed in the future. An annual fee is involved for storage, but that’s it. Though some parents already know that their baby will need stem cell treatment upon birth, many simply save the cord blood as a precautionary measure, almost like a life insurance policy. Cord blood is currently approved to treat more than 80 diseases, with many more currently being researched.
The Alternative to Cord Blood: Teeth
There’s no denying the remarkable applications of cord blood, but many parents did not know cord blood banking was option upon the birth of their children, or they couldn’t afford it, or didn’t understand the concept. Other adults never had children and are looking for a stem cell insurance policy of their own. It turns out that banking the stem cells from teeth is actually the best alternative!
According to oral surgeon Dr. Robert Wolf, “Take those healthy reproductive cells from your 10-year-old self or teenage self and they can be there when you are 50, 60, 70 years old to treat any disease, illness, or injury that might arise at that time of life. It’s really a remarkable opportunity.” The only requirement is a healthy tooth with blood supply. Teeth that have to be pulled for overcrowding, bicuspids, and wisdom teeth are all great choices, but dangling baby teeth are not because they do not have enough blood supply.
There are different companies, like the Massachusetts-based Store-A-Tooth that take the tooth, withdraw the viable stem cells, and store them for years on end. The kit they provide includes everything a dentist needs to complete the process, including a tooth fairy certificate. Once a tooth is pulled for the purpose of banking, it’s placed in dry ice and shipped to the lab, where it’s carefully processed for stem cells and stored. Store-A-Tooth believes that the stem cells found in teeth can make a difference in cartilage, fat, neuro tissue, bone, and muscle problems in the future.
It’s still rare, so costs are high. The initial processing can cost up to $1,500, with another $120 a year for stem cell storage. But many parents believe that banking the stem cells from a baby tooth might save their child’s life in the future, and that is worth all of the money in the world.
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