The tooth fairy takes on a whole new meaning when a child's teeth can be preserved for health-altering medical treatments.
Up to the age of about 12, a child will lose 20 baby teeth. It's during this completely natural process that parents have multiple chances to save the rich source of Mesenchymal stem cells from the dental pulp. The cells can be collected from baby teeth as they naturally loosen, from wisdom teeth being extracted, or from teeth extracted for orthodontic reasons.
Parents then preserve them with a company like Store-A-Tooth, and the cells are available if and when the child should need them.
Many clinical trails are underway using dental stem cells in medical treatments for everything from neurological disorders, to MS, to spinal cord injury and corneal damage. But the most promising research is for Type 1 Diabetes - which impacts about 1 million Americans today and is usually diagnosed in childhood.
A recent study published in the Journal of Dental Research showed that stem cells from teeth were coaxed into cells that can produce insulin in a glucose responsive manner – early research which means mesenchymal stem cells from teeth might one day play a role in treating Type 1 Diabetes.
I can offer an interview with Dr. Peter Verlander, PhD, chief scientific officer with Store-A-Tooth (www.
storeatooth.com), and he can share some key reasons why parents should consider this option, even if they banked their child's cord blood.