Losing a Tooth Soon?
Did you know that teeth contain stem cells that could help protect your family’s future health?
Stem cells help the body renew and repair itself. When people hear “stem cells” they often think “embryonic stem cells”, but there are also adult stem cells. For decades, doctors have quietly been using these noncontroversial adult stem cells from bone marrow or umbilical cord blood to treat diseases such as leukemia, and over 500,000 families have privately stored their child’s umbilical cord blood for its potential medical uses in the future.
It turns out that there are also potent stem cells that live in the dental pulp (the meaty tissue inside teeth) and the periodontal ligament (the layer of tissue that keeps the tooth attached to the jaw bone). Scientists have called these stem cells “dental stem cells”. Although they are found in or around teeth, these “dental stem cells” have the potential to be useful for a wide range of regenerative dental and medical applications.
The story of these stem cells from teeth goes back to a curious scientist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 2000, Dr. Songtao Shi was researching stem cells from bone marrow. One day when his daughter was losing her baby teeth, he rushed one into his lab and found similar ‘mesenchymal’ stem cells inside.
Over the past 10 years, scientists and doctors have investigated many uses for dental stem cells such as for regenerating bone, repairing or building new teeth, and treating a number of serious conditions such as type 1 diabetes, spinal cord injury, muscular dystrophy, stroke and myocardial infarction (heart attack), repairing corneal damage, and treating neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
In 2009, dental stem cells were used successfully to regenerate jaw bone in the clinic and to treat periodontal disease. In 2011, scientists showed that dental stem cells can create islet cells, similar to those in the pancreas, which produce insulin in response to glucose levels – suggesting that dental stem cells may someday play a role in treating type 1 diabetes.
Why preserve stem cells from teeth?
Dental stem cells are easy, convenient and affordable to collect – since stem cells can be harvested from any healthy tooth. We all lose 20 baby teeth from about age 7 to 12, then many of us have teeth pulled for braces, and our wisdom teeth extracted when we reach our late teens or early adulthood. So we ask, is there a better use for teeth that come out than to put under the pillow for the Tooth Fairy? Yes, the stem cells inside may hold the promise for a range of very interesting potential uses in the future.
The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry issued a policy statement on dental stem cells in 2008, in which they acknowledge the potential utility of these cells, as long as they are properly collected and stored. The AAPD recommends that dentists stay abreast of new developments in stem cell science, that they inform their patients about the potential for regenerative dental and medical applications using dental stem cells, and that they work with quality providers of stem cell preservation services to ensure that stem cells are properly collected, transported, tested, processed and cryopreserved.
Our practice now offers Store-A-ToothTM, the leader in dental stem cell banking.
Store-A-Tooth offers a second chance for parents to store their children’s stem cells in a simple, convenient and affordable way. Banking dental stem cells now could help protect your family’s future health. You’ll be prepared to take advantage of future breakthroughs in stem cell research and ‘regenerative medicine’ – which may provide new treatments for conditions such as diabetes, spinal cord injury or Parkinson’s.
“In only 10 years, we’ve seen research into dental stem cells grow exponentially. Our mission is to help educate families about dental stem cells, especially those that may be affected by serious diseases such as type 1 diabetes or muscular dystrophy. We want parents to know that it’s relatively easy and affordable to preserve the stem cells in their children’s teeth and that these cells hold the potential to be used in a number of future applications,” said Dr. Peter Verlander, Chief Scientific Officer of Provia Laboratories. Dr. Verlander left his post at Harvard Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics to help launch Provia Labs, which provides the Store-A-Tooth service.
Before baby teeth come out or wisdom teeth are extracted, please take a moment to learn more about dental stem cell banking to see if this service is something you want to do for your family.
To learn more, ask about Store-A-Tooth at your next visit or go to their website at www.store-a-tooth.com.