Many of us knew we could bank our children’s umbilical cord blood in the hopes that it could serve them well in the future, if they were ever to become ill. Unfortunately, many aren’t able to participate in the once in a lifetime event, and regret not taking out that metaphorical life insurance policy. Fortunately, new discoveries has given everyone a second chance! What about disease curing teeth? In 2003, the National Institutes of health confirmed that dental pulp was a viable route for harvesting stem cells. In fact, banking dental pulp may be even more beneficial than banking cord blood. The cells from cord blood can only be used to make more blood cells, which is perfect for treating blood and auto immune disease, but tooth pulp is much more flexible in its uses. As technology grows, the option to bank teeth for stem cells does too. According to the U.S National Library of Medicine, teeth are best banked when the child is younger, as the cells are at their healthiest and most proliferative stage. However, cells can still be harvested from permanent teeth and wisdom teeth.
Banking Dental Pulp
One very important component to banking dental pulp, is making sure to get the best extraction possible. Wiggly teeth that fall out at home can be banked, but for optimal potential results, having an extraction done by a dentist is the best option. A good blood flow into the tooth is very important all the way up to removal. So, if your child loses his or her tooth before visiting the dentist, think about planning for extraction of a different tooth.
The stem cells in dental pulp is very malleable when it comes to ways in which it can be used. It can be influenced to become myocytes which could repair muscle tissue; cardio myocytes can specifically help repair cardiac tissues following a heart attack. It has the potential to become osteocytes which could repair bone. It could become neuronal, which promotes brain and nerve tissue growth. They could additionally become andiocytes which generate fat cells or chrondocytes which can become cartilage.
In one story, a family hopes their son’s dental pulp can one day cure the nine-year-old’s type 1 diabetes. His mother, Jennifer Hess, fears the potential outcomes that are associated with the disease, including blindness and loss of feeling in feet and hands. Though there are no specific treatments of this kind yet, Assistant Professor in Bioengineering and Pediatrics at University of Colorado Hospital says, “Researchers have recently, in the past two or three years, made insulin producing cells from dental pulp cells.” This could change this little boy’s and emphasizes why dental pulp banking is a wonderful idea.
See, just another reason to appreciate your teeth and take good care of them. They could save lives.