Parents, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of banking your newborn’s cord blood as a potential source of stem cells in the future, but how about storing your children’s teeth? Cells harvested from teeth could provide health benefits years down the road.
Janette and Grieg Fennell eat right and live a healthy lifestyle. But good health is something their family never takes for granted. So the Fennells were intrigued by an idea proposed by their dentist when their youngest was 15.
"He needed to get his wisdom teeth extracted. As part of the process, we learned about this tooth storage opportunity,” said Janette Fennell.
Jason Bresler, DMD, is a pediatric dentist who offers the tooth banking service to patients.
"With baby teeth you know you’re getting a small amount of tissue that has these stem cells in them," Bresler explained.
Dentists extract a tooth before it falls out. The tooth is preserved in a special solution, packed in ice, and shipped to a facility where the teeth are processed and stem cells are stored. Teeth are a good source of special stem cells called mesenchymal stem cells that can form into tissues like nerves, muscles, and even bone. These cells have been important in regenerative medicine.
"In the future it could be used to treat nerve damage from a car accident, or replacement of an organ, or treatment of type 1 diabetes,” said Bresler.
The Fennells are banking on medical advances in the future giving their son a healthcare advantage someday if he would need it.
“It’s a contingency plan. It’s much like insurance, but instead of it being a death benefit, it’s a life-giving benefit,” said Greig Fennell.
There is an initial processing fee for tooth storage of between $850 and $1,750, depending upon the option families choose. The annual storage fee is about $120 or ten dollars a month. Go to www.store-a-tooth.com for more information.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field and Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer, Dave Harrison; Editor.