Baby teeth are more valuable than once thought.
When a child loses their first baby tooth, it’s a sign they are growing up. It can also introduce a new fun tradition of the ‘tooth fairy’.
If you’re like me, you will be caught off guard when the said moment occurs and will be scurrying at the bottom of your handbag for a gold coin.
Once the tooth is retrieved from under your child’s pillow and replaced with a gold coin, what are you to do with the spare tooth?
Some parents keep them as childhood keepsakes, while others dispose of the tooth in the bin.
But doctors in America are urging parents to keep their children’s baby teeth as they are good source of stem cells which can be used in the future to grow replacement tissue if needed.
A 2003 study on baby teeth found baby teeth have a rich supply of stem cells and if preserved quickly once they’ve fallen out, the stem cells can be stored for years. Stem Cells are protocells that can be grown into multiple kinds of cells to ‘recreate’ body tissues – if the child needs it in the future.
The catch for the process to take place, is the fallen tooth must be kept fresh and preserved within 48 hours of being lost. Parents in the US are using services like Store-A-Tooth to preserve their children’s teeth. The teeth are put in a liquid nitrogen cryopreservation vault, where the teeth will remain preserved for many years.
There is no such service in Australia as the research is relatively new on the medical value of children’s baby teeth. The only services currently available in Australia are cord blood banks. They may consider offering a baby tooth bank in the future so this option can exist for parents in Australia.
In terms of cost, dental storage is much cheaper than cord blood storage.
Tooth banks in the US charge $700-$80 USD for the first year and $100 USD every year after. In Australia, cord blood storage costs approximately $1700 AUD per year.
When and if this service is made available in Australia, it could make stem cell preservation affordable for all parents.