Cryopreservation of stem cells in stem cell banks sounds like a reality out of a science fiction novel, but this fiction could soon become a reality. According to scientists, baby teeth have the kind of stem cells that help regenerate the body, so one day baby teeth could be used to save lives. Some parents have taken this to heart and have started keeping their children’s baby teeth for the future.
Stem cells are the cells that every organ and tissue in our body began growing from. Stem cells are different because of their ability to regenerate, divide, and repair the human body. There are two main sources of stem cells. The first one is Embryos formed during the blastocyst phase of embryological development known as embryonic stem cells. The second source is adult tissue and is known as adult stem cells. Both are characterized by their potency and potential to turn into other types of cells like muscle or bone.
Baby teeth are a source of stem cells like bone marrow and can be saved as a form of biological insurance. Even though research hasn’t yet shown the full potential of these stem cells, it’s worth keeping them in the case of a breakthrough. Dentists and stem cell researchers have teamed up to create the first stem cell banks for teeth. One such business is Store-A-Tooth. You can ship them your teeth and they extract the stem cells from them and store them in a culture where they can grow. Then those cells are taken and put into cryopreservation.
Cryopreservation is Expensive
Right now the cryopreservation of baby teeth actually means very little, but the potential for future stem cell research is tremendous. However, the price is set pretty high; Store-A-Tooth requires a $1,747 upfront fee and then additional $120 yearly fee. So you can see that this would start costing very much very quickly. The decision to cryopreserve teeth even though it is expensive is a tough decision because it could, in theory, save someone’s life. It all depends on if research closes the gap between theory and reality.
Further Stem Cell Research Needed
Experts agree it’s still far too early to consider dental pulp stem cells as a source of cells for replacing or regenerating tissue. But the potential is there because scientists already know that dental pulp can make bone. There are more than a few ‘tooth banks’ that have sprung up including The Tooth Bank and StemSave, so we might be getting closer to the real potential of this medical technology.
Stem Cell Applications
There are many situations and illnesses for which stem cells would be useful. Right now there’s active stem cell research in application of stem cells for the treatment of illness’s, diseases, and injuries such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, spinal cord injuries, damaged organs, and treating various cancers. Stem cells might be useful in treating a myriad of conditions. We’re not there yet, but science is on the cusp of unlocking the key to these useful cells. So why not save your child’s baby teeth and add a little insurance to their life. After all, no one knows what tomorrow brings.
- Canadian Stem Cell Foundation. What is a stem cell? http://stemcellfoundation.ca/en/about-stem-cells/what-is-a-stem-cell/Accessed: November 30, 2016.
- Snopes. Stem Sells http://www.snopes.com/stem-cells-from-baby-teeth/Published: August 17, 2016. Accessed: November 30, 2016.
- Medical News Today. What are Stem Cells? http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/stem_cell Accessed: November 30, 2016.
- Stem Save. 2 easy steps https://www.stemsave.com/stemsavesystem.aspxAccessed: November 30, 2016.
- youtube. Stem Cells https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jF2iXpoG5j8 Published: April 30, 2013. Accessed: November 30, 2016.