Many people are familiar with stem-cell banking from the umbilical cord at birth. Did you know that it is also possible to bank stem-cells bank from baby teeth and young, healthy adult teeth? This recent technology has great potential to enable treatment of diseases and aid healing and repair using an individual’s own stem cells in future years.
What are Stem Cells?
Stem Cells are the “master cells” of the body which have the potential to differentiate into various types of cell, depending on the part of the body. They are also able to self-regenerate or multiply.
There are two main types of human stem cells:
Embryonic Stem Cells are obtained from early embryos. They have the potential to become any type of cell in body. The embryos are usually donated as extra embryos following IVF treatment. However, their use is controversial as collection of the stem cells results in the destruction of the embryo.
Adult Stem Cells are found in various parts of the body. They have the potential to become various types of cells. Bone marrow, umbilical cord blood and dental pulp tissueare good sources of adult stem cells.
What are the advantages of Dental Pulp Stem Cells?
Stem cells from teeth are mesenchymal stem cells which have the potential to become many different types of cells in the body.
Dental stem cells are easily collected by extracting the tooth and are found in high concentrations within the tooth pulp.
There are no ethical issues, since the stem cells are harvested from teeth that would fall out naturally or are to be extracted for other reasons.
I have already banked stem cells from my child’s cord blood. Why should I also consider banking dental stem cells?
Banking dental stem cells is complimentary to cord blood banking. The stem cells obtained from the umbilical cord are hematopoietic stem cells which are able to differentiate into all types of blood cells to treat blood diseases. The stem cells from the dental pulp have a much wider range of potential therapeutic uses.
In what treatments are stem cells already being used?
The use of haematopoietic stem cells to treat diseases and conditions of the blood system, such as leukaemia and anaemia, is well established. This demonstrates how powerful stem cell therapies can be. Scientists all over the world are currently researching ways to harness other types of stem cells and use them to learn more about, to diagnose, and to treat various diseases and conditions.
What diseases can potentially be treated using stem cell therapy?
Research has shown that adult stem cells can be taken from one area of the body, transplanted into another area and reprogrammed to grow into a completely different type of tissue.
Stem cell science is continually moving forward.
Many potential treatments are currently being tested in animal models and some have already been brought to clinical trials:
- Type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes
- Treatment of spinal cord injuries
- Neurological diseases e.g. Parkinson’s disease
- Heart disease
- Regeneration of bone, cartilage and other tissues
- Treatment of Autoimmune diseases
Which teeth can be used for stem cell banking?
Baby (milk) teeth
These should be extracted and sent for stem cell banking soon before they are due to fall out.
Healthy adult teeth
When extraction is planned to make space before orthodontic treatment.
These are often extracted due to lack of space.
Teeth with decay are not suitable for stem cell banking.
Teeth from children and young adults usually give a better quality and quantity of stem cells than older teeth.
At Small Bites – the exclusive dental care centre for children in Indiranagar, Bangalore – we have partnered with Stemade to offer stem-cell banking from baby teeth and young, healthy adult teeth.
If you have any further questions please contact the practice. (Click Small Bites link above).
Further information is also available on Stemade’s website (click for link).