Is your child about to lose her milk tooth? Instead of throwing it away, you can now opt to use it to harvest stem cells in a dental stem cell bank for future use in the face of serious ailments. Now thats a tooth fairy story coming to life.
Still relatively new in India, dental stem cell banking is fast gaining popularity as a more viable option over umbilical cord blood banking.
Stem cell therapy involves a kind of intervention strategy in which healthy, new cells are introduced into a damaged tissue to treat a disease or an injury.
The umbilical cord is a good source for blood-related cells, or hemaotopoietic cells, which can be used for blood-related diseases, like leukaemia (blood cancer). Having said that, blood-related disorders constitute only four percent of all diseases, Shailesh Gadre, founder and managing director of the company Stemade Biotech, said.
For the rest of the 96 percent tissue-related diseases, the tooth is a good source of mesenchymal (tissue-related) stem cells. These cells have potential application in all other tissues of the body, for instance, the brain, in case of diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinsons; the eye (corneal reconstruction), liver (cirrhosis), pancreas (diabetes), bone (fractures, reconstruction), skin and the like, he said.
Mesenchymal cells can also be used to regenerate cardiac cells.
Dental stem cell banking also has an advantage when it comes to the process of obtaining stem cells.
Obtaining stem cells from the tooth is a non-invasive procedure that requires no surgery, with little or no pain. A child, in the age group of 5-12, is any way going to lose his milk tooth. So when its a little shaky, it can be collected with hardly any discomfort, Savita Menon, a pedodontist, said.
Moreover, in a number of cases, when an adolescent needs braces, the doctor recommends that his pre-molars be removed. These can also be used as a source for stem cells. And over and above that, an adults wisdom tooth can also be used for the same purpose, Gadre added.
Therefore, unlike umbilical cord blood banking which gives one just one chance – during birth – the window of opportunity in dental stem cell banking is much bigger.
Your child’s milk tooth can save her life
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