Stem cell technology is advancing to stages that are truly a remarkable feat of medical science. But to make stem cells even more efficient in curing people, a person’s stem cells should be made available at any time. For this, there is cord blood that now parents are freezing and storing in hopes that it may save their child’s life one day. But now scientists are saying that other parts of the body can be sourced for the stem cells and one of them is baby teeth. The next time your child leaves his tooth beneath his pillow for the tooth fairy, make sure you take it and get it stored in a proper way. You see even the teeth contain stem cells and they could come in use one day.
1. Why you need to keep teeth for dental cells
Scientists are recommending that a child’s milk teeth should not be thrown away. It could be preserved for treating serious health issues in the future. The teeth can be sourced from dental stem cells which can even save your child’s life.
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2. What are dental stem cells?
Stem cells are different from other cells in the body. Your body consists of several thousand cells. The cells are all divided into three major groups such as red blood cells, muscle cells, and nerve cells. There are also other branches of human cells in the body. But before these can grow into fully functional cells, they are first stem cells. It is these stem cells that grow into the respective types of cells.
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3. Stem cells can regenerate into new tissue
Stem cells are capable of renewing themselves and even transforming themselves into even more special type of cells. These can repair and replace various tissues and organs. According to the national institute of health, stem cell technology is the most promising frontier of medical technology and research.
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4. They can treat disease
Because of their regenerative capabilities, stem cells have great potential in treating diabetes, and heart disease. However, research is still underway to study stem cells and find even more innovative ways to use them as regenerative medicine.
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5. Where can we take stem cells from?
Stem cells consist of two basic types. Embryonic and adult. While embryonic stem cells can only be harvested from human embryos, adult cells are found in bone marrow (the spongy substance found in bones) and the umbilical cord. Scientists have now discovered that the pulp of baby teeth also contain stem cells with regenerative properties. In fact, studies have found that at least one to two dozen stem cells reside in baby teeth.
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How to store teeth for stem cells
Blood cells grow and develop in a sponge-like part of the bone called bone marrow. Stem cells can be taken from teeth as well as other parts of the bone. Remember, teeth should be properly stored to become useful. Doctors and scientists use several kinds of technology to preserve and later produce stem cells.
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7. How stem cells can help
As mentioned earlier, stem cells can actually reproduce different types of cells in the body. They can also be used to fight cancer. Ongoing studies are presently trying to find out the potential of stem cells to treat diseases and conditions like heart Infraction.
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8. How are dental stem cells preserved?
First, you need to make an appointment with a dentist. There are several agencies promoting the preservation of dental stem cells. Just as in cord blood stem cells, dental stem cells can also be preserved in stem cell banks. Once you contact a reliable company for storing your child’s dental stem cells, they may send a kit to your dentist.
The procedure has to take place when the tooth is about to fall out or loose. The dentist will extract the loose tooth and place it in the storage kit which will nourish the stem cells while en route to a facility, or laboratory. The lab will make an assessment to see which cells present in the tooth are ok for preserving. The dental cells once chosen will be cryogenically preserved by stem cell storage technology.
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9. Are there any disadvantages to storing dental stem cells?
The only disadvantage of storing both stem cells and dental stem cells is the cost factor which does not come cheap. However, if you consider the future benefits, then it may be worth a consideration. Storage facilities may vary from company to company.
The biggest question that people face regarding stem cell storage is if they will work or not. Do the benefits justify the costs? At present, it is too early to speak for or against stem cell treatment because research is still going on.
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10. A new study proves stem cell can produce dentin in decayed teeth
In a very new study involving dentin production from stem cells, scientists are working on a new medicine called Tideglusib that stimulates stem cells within decayed teeth to produce dentin to fill a cavity after the decayed material has been removed by dentists. Instead of filling with conventional filing, doctors will rely on the medicine for stem cell regeneration of dentin. The drug is scheduled for human trials and will be a step forward in proving the effectiveness of stem cell therapy.
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What experts have to say?
The FDA or food and drug administration are yet to approve dental stem cell therapy. Dr. Pamela Robey of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial research says that “What we do know is the cells from dental pulp in baby or wisdom teeth have the ability to make dentin and pulp and they might have the ability to make bone, but right now that’s all we really know for sure … we can’t say how useful for the future they’ll be.” Considering the uncertainties and the cost, then, parents would be well advised to seek the opinion of a knowledgeable medical professional and carefully weigh their decision before investing in a baby tooth bank account.
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12. The bottom line
The bottom line about dental stem cells is that though they are promising given the advancements of stem cell research, the idea is still too new to decide whether dental stem cells should be stored or not. On the other hand, every new drug or medical technology existed as an idea once and was greeted with its own share of skepticism. Stem cell logics point out to the fact that stem cells indeed can help cure disease and dental stem cells do possess the same potential. The ultimate decision is left up to a parent.
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13What you can do
What you can do is to seek more information and advice from the International Society of Stem Cell Research to find out the risks and benefits. You can also consult with your doctor on your best course of action.
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14You can improve your child’s creativity with their own teeth
If you still want to save your baby’s teeth, you could also get your child to use them in a school science project. You could show them how to use the teeth to see the influence of items like coke, sugar, coffee on the tooth. Or you could simply rely on the tooth fairy to bury it in the garden.
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