As a Mother of a 5-year-old son, I will soon go through a parent’s rite of passage of my child losing his first baby tooth. Usually the only concern would be how much money the “tooth fairy” is going to leave him under his pillow, but maybe now I should consider donating his baby teeth to a stem cell bank. Believe it or not, this is a growing trend despite medical science not quite being able to deliver on the promise (just yet).
Here is a recent article from the Miami Herald discussing this topic, “South Florida and around the world, dentists are extracting baby teeth, wisdom teeth and even healthy adult teeth, and researchers are spinning out stem cells that they believe can be used to regrow lost teeth, someday even to repair damaged bones, hearts, pancreases, muscles and brains.”
In addition to the Miami Herald, there have been several other articles dedicated to this topic of late, as well as a feature news story even back in 2008 from GMA/ABC News: Could Baby Teeth Stem Cells Save Your Child?
So should we as parents start collecting our children’s baby teeth in order to help them fight potential life-threatening illnesses? Or in the case of ourselves, should adults have their own teeth extracted for future treatments for our own possible diseases? From the current available data, it appears that the answer to that question may be a bit premature.
According to the Miami Herald, “There are concerns. It’s expensive, costing $590 upfront plus $100 a year to store the stem cells from up to four teeth for up to 20 years. It’s speculative, with the first FDA-approved practical use of such stem cells years away.”
With that said, there have been numerous breakthroughs in 2010 in both stem cell research and regenerative medicine. The New York Times reported on the remarkable year that the industry has had in 2010, with all signs showing that the next few years will be even more exciting. So maybe banking our children’s baby teeth might be a good alternative for stem cell collection if the science continues to move full speed ahead.
Which brings me back to my original concern, just how much do you pay your child for their first lost tooth? My parents used to give me a quarter, but should I account for inflation? And if so, how would you go about calculating that amount? I bet there is an app for that, time to search the Droid store!