Very few people actually know that baby teeth can be harvested and cryogenically preserved to potentially save lives in the future.
A story, recently published in Northeast Herald tells about Dr. Douglas Colthurst of Colthurst DDS General Dentistry, based in McHenry, IL, who recommends his patients to donate their teeth to dental stem cell banks.
About 10 years ago, Colthurst received a dental stem cell banking newsletter and decided to take advantage of it.
?I removed four baby teeth from my daughter, Tori, about a year and a half before they were due to fall off on their own,? Colthurst said. ?I then sent them to a tissue bank called Store-A-Tooth.?
Several years after Colthurst donated his daughter?s baby teeth, it was time for her wisdom teeth to come out. Colthurst didn?t want those to go to waste either, so when his daughter was a teenager, he had an oral surgeon remove her wisdom teeth and then donated those teeth to Store-A-Tooth as well.
Provia Laboratories formally launched Store-A-Tooth in 2010 with the goal of preserving stem cells in people?s teeth. According to Store-a-Tooth?s website, the dental pulp in children?s baby and wisdom teeth provide an excellent source of mesenchymal stem cells, which can help generate replacement tissue and heal people?s bodies.
Dr. Peter Verlander, co-founder of Provia Laboratories, said his company decontaminates the teeth, isolates the soft tissue inside the tooth and then freezes them down to preserve the stem cells.
?It?s a valuable resource that was getting thrown away in the past,? Verlander said. ?We thought that parents should know they have the option of saving them for future years.?
Store-A-Tooth offers two services: original state preservation and cultured cell preservation. Original state preservation helps maintain the tissue in its initial form while the cultured cell preservation extracts the stem cells before freezing them and then grows them in multiple storage vials. The original state preservation costs $849 for processing, while the full service to get both preservations costs $1,749.
?I think that saving the stem cells is a small investment,? Verlander said. ?The processing may seem expensive to people, but it?s important. Hopefully, the child doesn?t need them. However, if the day does come when the stem cells could be useful, then it?ll be nice to have them readily available.?
Dr. Douglas Colthurst believes that the more exposure dental stem cell banking gets, the more normalized it will be.
?I really think in the future this will become common practice. I think stem cells will be used regularly for tissue repair, and I believe that in my daughter?s lifetime they will make individual organs routinely.? – he said.