The New Tooth Fairy: Banking Dental Stem Cells

FRESNO, Calif.

"My family has a history of juvenile diabetes and MS," Ellen Maxfield told Ivanhoe. "It worries me a lot, actually."

Ellen's daughter, Kalen, is getting a loose tooth checked out. She's thinking about putting those baby teeth in a dental stem cell bank.

"It's something that I think would be a great benefit to my daughter if, heaven forbid, anything happened to her down the road," Ellen explained.

Her dentist recommends it.

"I think that you're doing your child and their future a disservice if you don't at least look into it," Stephen Hamelburg, DMD, told Ivanhoe.

Hamelburg is talking about Store-A-Tooth. The company banks adult stem cells found in children's baby teeth and in wisdom teeth.

"There are potentials that, in the future, these cells can be used to help with certain illnesses," Hamelburg explained.

Right now, there are no medical applications using dental stem cells, but they have been used in human studies. The hope is one day they'll treat spinal cord injuries, MS and a variety of other conditions.

"I'm hoping there will be enough research done to figure out how to regenerate tissue in the heart," Claudia Vigorito, a Store-A-Tooth customer, told Ivanhoe.

Claudia 's daughter Gabby had open heart surgery when she was just three weeks old because of a leaky valve.

"I felt very helpless," Claudia explained.

Now, she has faith her daughter won't have to endure a lifetime of surgeries. She's banked four of Gabby's teeth.

"She's going to lose her teeth anyway. Why not put them to good use?" Claudia said.

Once a dentist extracts the teeth, they're packed in a kit and sent to a lab where the stem cells are harvested and stored for possible future use.

Now 8 years old, Gabby loves to bake, and Claudia has peace of mind. The dental stem cells she's banked could keep Gabby cooking for decades to come.

The initial cost to bank stem cells from one tooth with Store-A-Tooth is $769, which includes the first year of storage. After that, it's $10 a month to keep each tooth cryogenically frozen. For more information about dental stem cell banking, go to store-a-tooth.com.

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