Here are some frequently asked questions and answers to provide a better understanding about stem cells.
Stem cells have the ability to change into different cell types. They also have the ability to aid in the healing of damaged tissue. These are just two of the reasons why scientists and doctors are so excited about the growing role of stem cells to treat disease, injury, and the deterioration of tissue due to aging.
Dental stem cells are adult stem cells found in both baby teeth and wisdom teeth. Dental stem cells belong to a class of adult stem cells referred to as ‘mesenchymal stem cells’ and have been shown to be able to differentiate into bone, dental tissue, cartilage, and muscle, and there is evidence that they may be able to differentiate into neural tissue. They are being studied for applications in regenerative dentistry and medicine.
There have been hundreds of papers published by stem cell researchers over the last few decades, focused on identifying regenerative therapies or treatments for dozens of different conditions. Currently the most common medical applications are the use of adult stem cells from bone marrow or cord blood to treat leukemia, certain cancers and other blood-related diseases.
Dental stem cells were discovered more recently and are being studied for a number of conditions related to the connective tissues or neural tissues in the body – including type 1 diabetes, spinal cord injury, skeletal bone loss, muscular dystrophy, cardiovascular diseases such as myocardial infarction and stroke, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The first human applications of dental stem cells have been in regenerative dentistry: re-growing jaw bone and treating periodontal (gum) disease. Scientists anticipate the earliest medical applications will be for the repair of damaged tooth structures, bone regeneration, and later for the treatment of neural tissue injury or neurodegenerative diseases.
There are many reasons. Some choose to store stem cells because their family has specific history or risk factors that prompt them to consider all potential options available. Others see the momentum building in the field of stem cell research and do not want to miss the opportunity to preserve their children’s stem cells now. Because there are limited opportunities to safely, inexpensively, and painlessly collect and store stem cells, most of our clients want to be prepared “just in case” their children ever need them.
Although it is not known for certain how many cells will be needed for clinical use in the future, we recommend that you store more than one tooth if possible. For this reason, there are no extra charges when you bank up to four teeth from the same patient when they are collected and shipped at the same time. We also offer a discount if you should choose to store more than one sample (for example, a baby tooth followed by wisdom teeth later on).
Yes. Unless the children are identical twins, their cells will not be a perfect immunological match.
Scientists are still learning which source of stem cells will work best for the different possible clinical applications. Many families bank both cord blood and dental stem cells because dental stem cells will likely be useful for generating tissues that cord blood may not be as well suited for. Cord blood stem cells are typically used to treat blood cancers and genetic diseases of the blood, whereas dental stem cells appear to be suited to such applications as bone, neurons, muscle, and cartilage.
Still have questions? We’re here to help. Call and talk with a clinical specialist today.