Have you ever played the ‘tooth fairy’ game with your kids?
Y’know, the one where you get them to hide their newly-displaced baby tooth under their pillow so a magical little creature can slip in at night and replace it with some cash.
As fun as it is, it’s pretty short-lived. Your kid gets a buck or two, spends it on a toy and that’s the end of it.
Unless, of course, the fairy happened to drop that baby tooth off at a tooth bank.
The Long-Term Benefits of Storing Baby Teeth
In 2003, researchers at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research found that baby teeth contain valuable stem cells. In a nutshell, stem cells have the potential to turn into just about any cell type imaginable.
Say your child, later in life, develops a condition that damages their pancreas, heart or brain. Stem cells from their baby tooth can actually be used to repair the damaged cells in those locations.
The best part? Stem cells from baby teeth are among the most powerful in the human body. They proliferate much faster – and for longer – than stem cells from other areas.
This removes the need to wait for a bone marrow donor if your child ever needs stem cells. It also increases the likelihood that their body will accept the stem cells – something that’s not always certain when they come from a donor.
I know what you’re thinking.
‘If my child desperately needs teeth stem cells at some point in the future, couldn’t a dentist just pull up one of their teeth then?”
Not necessarily. As stem cells age, they become less powerful. If your child needs stem cells as an adult, the teeth that currently live in their mouth will no longer be very useful.
There are already a number of global services that will store your child’s baby tooth for a fee. Take, for example, Store-A-Tooth.
They partner with your dentist to collect the tooth and have it shipped overnight to their facility in a temperature-controlled kit. Once the tooth is in their hands, they extract the stem cells and place them in a culture where they can grow. Then, the cells – along with the tooth – are cryopreserved.
Even if the tooth fell out a while ago, it might still contain valuable stem cells!