Tooth Banking

By Catherine M. Fascilla, D.D.S.

If you missed the opportunity to store your baby’s umbilical cord stem cells, you may have another chance to store highly regenerative stem cells for your child. Unlike other cells in the body, stem cells are cells that have the unique ability to not only self replicate but to develop into a different type of cell, cells that can be used to regenerate tissue, bone, cartilage and neural tissue.

Tooth Banking is the storing of dental stem cells. All healthy teeth have stem cells within the dental pulp but baby teeth, wisdom teeth and healthy teeth removed for orthodontic treatment are the best candidates for stem cell banking. Because our body’s cells are affected by harmful environmental factors over time, the younger the tooth or the donor is, the more potent the stem cells are. Dental stem cells can be preserved indefinitely by being isolated from the dental pulp and cryogenically frozen.

Stem cells are at the forefront of one of the most revolutionary areas of biology and medicine today and the science is progressing rapidly. Regenerative medicine is a branch of medicine that develops methods to regrow, repair or replace damaged or diseased cells, organs or tissues using stem cells, tissue engineering and the production of artificial organs. Currently scientists are studying the role of these amazing cells in treating conditions like Type 1 Diabetes, spinal cord injuries, stroke, heart attacks, corneal damage, Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases. There have been thousands of clinical trials.

In 2004, scientists at Kings College London successfully cultivated a complete tooth in mice and were able to bioengineer teeth in the laboratory. Researchers are confident that tooth regeneration technology using stem cells can be used to grow live teeth in people.

The potential uses of dental stem cells is very promising and as more uses for dental stem cells are discovered, some laboratories are now offering services that will allow for the collection and preservation of stem cells from extracted teeth. The goal of the Store-A-Tooth program by Provia Labs in Littleton, Massachusetts, The National Dental Pulp Lab of Malborough, MA and The Tooth Bank in Indiana is to give people the opportunity to access these stem cells if they may need them in the future to treat diseases or serious illnesses.

Once enrolled in one of these programs, you will receive a Tooth Transport Kit that will include a collection jar with a preserving solution, a shipping container with a prepaid shipping label and a form to be filled out by your dentist. If the baby tooth falls out at home, you can place it in the collection jar and ship it yourself. However, to assure best results it is recommended that you consult with your dentist before the tooth falls out.

The cost of these programs are about $600 for the first year that includes processing of the cells and the first year of storage. Each additional year of storage is about $100.00. Some companies even provide a Tooth Fairy certificate that your dentist can sign to certify that your child has lost a tooth and they assure you that the Tooth Fairy always accepts the certificate in lieu of a tooth.

Like saving for college, the idea behind this is that tooth banking is another way to provide for your child’s healthy future.

Hopefully this article provided you with some useful information. If you have never experienced the “Tartar Challenge”, I encourage you to do so. Disclosing tablets can be purchased on Amazon or at Walmart so you can do it yourself at home. Or if you are a patient or would like to be, ask us to do it for you. It just might change your life.

Back to main articles page>