The Short of It
Doctors are studying whether stem cells in children's teeth can help unlock cures for diseases, which means it may be worth banking your child's baby teeth instead of handing them over to the tooth fairy.
My 13-year-old daughter keeps a little box in her nightstand drawer that holds all her baby teeth. Why she chose to save them I'll never know, but she may have been onto something. About a decade ago, doctors discovered that baby teeth contain similar stem cells to cord blood, which could potentially cure diseases or grow replacement tissue and bones in the body. But they're just now starting to figure out exactly how the stem cells could be used.
Which means, all those parents who are paying thousands of dollars to bank newborn cord blood stem cells may have another option: banking baby teeth. And they may be able to help treat Type 1 diabetes, spinal cord injuries, strokes, heart attacks and even Parkinson's disease.
"We don't have treatment for certain things today," pediatric dentist Dr. Jesse Witkoff told CBS 4 Denver. "But that doesn't mean we won't have them tomorrow."
So as scientists continue to research the potential uses for baby teeth stem cells, storage facilities have opened to help parents preserve their children's baby teeth as soon as they fall out. Places like Store-A-Tooth partner with dentists to overnight ship temperature-controlled kits back to their labs to extract the stem cells from teeth, freeze them, and cryopreserve them.
Would you bank your baby's teeth? The cost is still steep. Initial fees run from $849 to $1,749, and annual fees are $120. But it's right in line with the cost of banking cord blood, and it's nice to have another option if you missed that opportunity.