Baby teeth serve important roles as space holders for their adult counterparts, and for helping children eat properly and speak clearly.
Now there is belief that those baby teeth may serve an important role long after your children have cashed them in with the Tooth Fairy. They just might help treat Type 1 diabetes.
Scientists are treating this metabolic disease with encapsulation therapy, according to FOX News Health. An encapsulated device that contains insulin-producing islet cells derived from stem cells in baby teeth is implanted under the skin. The encapsulation device protects the cells from an autoimmune attack and may help people produce their own insulin.
The promise of using stem cells to treat not only diabetes, but a variety of diseases including leukemia and cardiovascular diseases has led to the creation of companies such as BioEden, Tooth Bank and Store-A-Tooth, which offer dental stem cell banking for use in the future.
Dental stem cells can potentially produce dental tissue, bone, cartilage and muscle, the FOX article states. They also may be used to repair cracked teeth, as well as teeth damaged by cavities, gum disease and bone loss. They may even be used to grow a tooth instead of using dental implants to replace missing teeth.
Scientists have used stem cells from umbilical cord blood for years to treat blood and bone marrow diseases, blood cancers, and metabolic and immune disorders. Umbilical cord blood presents a single opportunity to capture stem cells, but dental stem cells can be collected from several baby teeth, the FOX article states.
Following are several reasons to consider banking your child’s tooth stem cells, according to tooth banking websites:
- It’s easy and noninvasive. Simply collect a baby tooth that has fallen out naturally, or a wisdom tooth that has been removed.
- They could improve or save a child’s life some day.
- Banking dental stem cells means children can not only take advantage of stem cell therapies in use today, but future therapies, too.
- Tooth stem cells have the greatest potential for therapeutic uses. They can proliferate safely in a lab and naturally change into different cell types. This enables them to treat more conditions.
“This is one of those exciting advancements that parents hope they will never need,” says Alpharetta children’s dentist Dr. Nanna Ariaban. “But it’s better to have it and not need it, than the other way around.”