Losing your baby teeth as a kid can be an exciting thing. You get to show it off to your friends and when it finally falls out, we all know that the tooth fairy will be by to replace it with a few crisp dollar bills.
But parents, you might want to consider keeping those teeth clear of the tooth fairy. Recent scientific studies have found that keeping baby teeth can have extremely important health benefits that could potentially help your children later in life.
Baby teeth contain stem cells inside the dental pulp of the tooth, stem cells that can regenerate into neurons, bone and cartilage, and some cardiac cells that can repair damaged heart tissue. In short, these stem cells can help to cure a myriad of diseases that children are susceptible to.
Where diseases like Hodgkin’s disease, leukemia, and multiple myeloma could once only be treated with painful bone marrow transplants (and similar invasive procedures), recent scientific developments now allow these illnesses to be treated using the child’s own stem cells – like the ones found in their teeth.
Many parents in the last few decades have collected cord blood stem cells, from after their child’s birth. This blood can be stored (for a hefty fee, $2,000 at many companies) in case their child ever has a medical need for their stem cells. However, you cannot store cord blood after the immediate time of birth, so parents who have not already stored this blood unfortunately do not have this option.
Luckily, companies like Provia offer an alternate means through tooth storing. Provia bills its service—called “Store-A-Tooth”— for a fairly manageable fee. The catch? The tooth needs to be frozen and stored sooner 48 hours after it has fallen out, otherwise the cells in the dental pulp will die.
So, the next time your kid has a loose tooth, consider holding onto it for safe keeping. You never know when those little teeth could be a literal lifesaver for your child.
To learn more about this interesting research and the process of tooth storing, check out this article from Motherboard!