Did you know that saving your child’s baby teeth, just before they fall out, may one day save your child’s life? You have all heard about using stem cells and saving umbilical cords. But did you know stem cells can also be found in baby teeth? Parents often plan for our children’s future through education savings and other means but you can also plan for their healthcare too? Here is a great new innovative way that you can!
The stem cell’s niche (SCN) is a very unique microenvironment within tissue that regulates stem/progenitor cell proliferation, survival, migration, fate, and aging. This begins early in development when the baby is still in the womb and continues during childhood to help with growth and self-renewal ie. hair, blood, skin. Your child’s baby teeth are significantly different from the adult permanent teeth with regards to their developmental processes, tissue structure. They are rich in progenitor stem cells that can differentiate into different tissues. Since 2000, researchers have begun investigating numerous ways these cells can be used for medical benefits. It is beneficial to harvest stem cells while the child is young. Young stem cells are not yet heavily affected by the accumulation of genetic and environmental contaminants and therefore are “virgin” and healthy enough to be used for future cell therapies. Other benefits of collecting the dental pulp from your child’s baby or wisdom teeth as they come out is that it is non-invasive and easier to collect rather than harvesting from other sources such as bone marrow or cord blood which can only be collected at birth and if you haven’t done this it is too late!
Some of the promising studies which stem cells from baby tooth has been found useful:
Dental tissue regeneration – due to the origin of where they come from they are a good candidate for tooth structure regeneration.
Bone formation – filling in bone defects in the jaw or even in other hand and neck regions.
Reconstruction of corneal layer in the eye – equivalent to a new cornea once transplantation has occurred.
Many other researcher teams are tirelessly working on using stem cells for many specific diseases such as, muscular dystrophy, lupus erythematous-associated disorder, type 1 diabetes, heart attacks, spinal cord injuries and neuro-degenerative diseases.
If your child goes through life and experiences a hurdle where they need stem cells you will be covered by having collected their dental stem cells from the dental pulp or their cord blood during the birthing process. You can never be too prepared for the future and while stem cells can be available to you at some point, there is nothing more promising than having your own that will not cause a rejection or poor reaction when using them. At this point it is not certain how many cells will be needed in the future and therefore it is recommended that you store more than one baby tooth.
Wondering what you tell your child when they are unable to put their tooth under the pillow for the Tooth Fairy? We are more than happy to sign a certificate to endorse / prove that your child has lost a tooth. The Tooth Fairy graciously accepts the certificate in lieu of a tooth!
Dr. Phoebe Tsang is a Fellow of the Royal College of Dentists of Canada (F.R.C.D.) in Pediatric Dentistry and a licensed Certified Specialist in Pediatric Dentistry in BC. The Royal College of Dentists of Canada is an organization which ensures high standards of specialization in the dental profession and recognizes properly trained dental specialists through comprehensive qualifying exams. Visit Dr. Tsang at the Children's Oral Care Centre in Abbotsford, BC.
Outside of the office, Dr. Tsang is a clinical assistant professor of Faculty of Dentistry who is actively engaged in teaching dental students at the University of British Columbia and general practice residents at Vancouver General Hospital and British Columbia's Children's Hospital.
Read Dr. Tsang's blog here.