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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT BANKING STEM CELLS

  • What are 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.

  • What are dental stem cells?

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.

  • What diseases are being studied?

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.

  • Why do families choose to store their dental stem cells?

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.

  • Should I bank cells from more than one tooth?

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).

  • Should I bank cells from more than one child?

Yes. Unless the children are identical twins, their cells will not be a perfect immunological match.

  • I’ve already banked my child's cord blood. Why should I store my child's dental stem cells?

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.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT WHY TEETH ARE A GOOD SOURCE OF STEM CELLS
  • What makes dental stem cells so unique?

Dental stem cells differ from other stem cells in many ways:

  • They are plentiful and easy to collect. Unlike harvesting bone marrow stem cells which requires invasive surgery and cord blood stem cells which are only available at birth, dental stem cells can be collected from baby teeth and wisdom teeth which would otherwise be discarded.
  • Dental stem cells are highly proliferative, growing better in culture than many other types of adult stem cells.
  • Dental stem cells have been reported to be more immature than other sources of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), thus may offer greater potential.
  • Dental stem cells are adult stem cells and are not the subject of the same ethical concerns as embryonic stem cells.

  • What is the difference between dental stem cells and cord blood stem cells?

Dental stem cells are complementary to stem cells from cord blood.

Dental pulp contains mostly mesenchymal stem cells while cord blood consists predominantly of hematopoietic stem cells; bone marrow contains both types of stem cells.

While cord blood stem cells have proven valuable in the regeneration of blood cell types, dental stem cells are able to regenerate solid tissue types that cord blood are less well suited for - such as potentially repairing connective tissues, dental tissues, neuronal tissue and bone.

If you banked your child’s cord blood cells, there are still significant potential benefits if you bank his or her dental stem cells as well. And if you missed the chance to store cord blood, you may want to consider the range of potential applications that may be possible with stem cells from your child’s teeth – either baby teeth or wisdom teeth.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW THE PROCESS WORKS
  • If there are stem cells in teeth, why can't I just extract a tooth if I need my stem cells?

First, there is evidence that the younger the tooth or the donor is, the more potent the stem cells are. Second, Store-A-Tooth preserves dental stem cells from teeth that are already extracted or removed by a dentist – which would otherwise be thrown away – so there is no extra procedure, discomfort, or inconvenience for you or your child.

  • What are your laboratory’s qualifications?

Our 10,000 sq. ft. facility is accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks, FDA registered and compliant, CLIA certified, and licensed by the Departments of Health in New York, New Jersey, California, Indiana, and Maryland.

Our lab has over 10 years of history of preserving human tissues, blood, and stem cells for clients in over 13 countries, with over 50,000 samples stored.

  • What is the Save-A-Tooth® device?

We selected the Save-a-Tooth device in order to provide the optimal way to transport your teeth, and the dental stem cells they contain, to our laboratory. Save-a-Tooth is a tooth preservation and transport device that was invented by one of our founding advisors, Dr. Paul Krasner. In use for over 20 years and trusted by thousands of dentists, school nurses, athletic coaches and parents throughout the USA. Save-A-Tooth is the only tooth transport device approved by the FDA and accepted by the (American Dental Association (ADA) for transportation of knocked-out teeth for reimplantation.

  • When should I enroll?

Store-A-Tooth strongly recommends that the tooth or teeth be professionally removed or extracted by a dentist and promptly placed into our sterile tooth transport device for shipment to our lab. We recommend enrolling well in advance of when the tooth may come out so you have plenty of time to receive the kit and prepare for collecting the tooth or teeth.

  • Is there anything special I need to tell my dentist?

Ask your dentist if he or she offers Store-A-Tooth. If not, please email us or call us toll-free at 1-877-867-5753, or ask your dentist to contact us. We will work directly with your dentist’s office to provide all needed materials and instructions.

  • Will my dentist know how to collect the cells?

Many dental offices are already equipped and ready to provide Store-A-Tooth, but any dentist who can extract teeth can collect teeth for banking with Store-A-Tooth. It is best if dentists not currently registered with Store-A-Tooth are contacted in advance of your arrival. If your dentist or oral surgeon is not currently equipped to provide Store-A-Tooth, please call us toll free at 1-877-867-5753 or email us and we will coordinate with their office to answer any questions they may have.

  • Can I do this at home?

You can collect baby teeth for dental stem cell banking at home, with the following restrictions:

  1. There must be a blood supply to the tooth when it is removed – that is, the tooth should bleed slightly when removed.
  2. The tooth must be banked using our Cultured Cell Service, so lab tests can be performed to confirm the presence of stem cells prior to cryopreservation.

However, even for loose baby teeth that typically come out at home, Store-A-Tooth strongly recommends that a dentist or oral surgeon collect the tooth or teeth and place them immediately into our tooth transport kit. By working closely with dentists, Store-A-Tooth ensures that teeth are collected under optimal conditions for recovery of the stem cells.

  • Which teeth are best?

All healthy teeth are good candidates for banking, including baby teeth that are coming out naturally, wisdom teeth that are surgically removed, as well as healthy teeth removed for orthodontic reasons.

However, it is best if baby teeth that are coming out naturally (‘exfoliating’) are collected as soon as your dentist recommends; for some tooth types, the process of exfoliation can result in the almost complete loss of the pulp.

  • Do teeth with cavities work?

In many cases, yes. However, teeth with extensive decay, or where there is reason to believe that the pulp has been compromised, should be discarded. Consult with your dentist or call our Clinical Specialists at 1-877-867-5753.

  • When should I schedule my visit to the dentist?

It’s best to contact Store-A-Tooth as soon as you begin to consider banking your child’s dental stem cells so that we can ship our tooth collection and transport kit to you before the tooth or teeth are ready to come out, and discuss with you the best timing for your dental appointment.

  • Do I need to bring anything to the dentist's office?

Yes. We always advise that you call us to enroll in advance of your dental appointment. We will then send a Store-A-Tooth kit directly to you, which you will bring with you to the dentist on the day of your appointment.

  • Does the dentist need to do anything out of the ordinary to collect teeth for banking?

Your dentist will follow his or her normal program for removing teeth.

  • Will I be charged a fee by my dentist when they collect the tooth?

Your dentist will make that decision - some dentists charge a nominal fee for the tooth extraction procedure.

  • What do I tell the Tooth Fairy?

A Tooth Fairy certificate is included in each Store-A-Tooth kit that your dentist can sign to certify that your child has lost a tooth. In our experience, the Tooth Fairy always accepts the certificate in lieu of a tooth!

  • What happens to my teeth after they are removed?

Your dentist places your tooth or teeth into our FDA-approved tooth transport kit which both protects and nourishes the cells during transport. We will work with you and your dentist to arrange for FedEx to pick up the kit with the teeth from your dentist’s office for overnight shipping to our laboratory.

All teeth are given an initial inspection upon arrival in the laboratory. If the teeth pass this inspection, the teeth are disinfected, the soft tissue is isolated and processed for cryopreservation. The processed cells are equilibrated with a cryoprotectant to stabilize the sample, frozen using our controlled-rate freezers, and transferred to liquid nitrogen vapor phase freezers for long-term storage. You will receive a laboratory report as confirmation that the sample was received, processed, and successfully stored.

  • How long can the stem cells be stored?

Once the cells have been processed and stored in our freezers, all biological activity has stopped; as a result, cells that have been properly banked can be stored almost indefinitely. Human cells have been effectively stored for up to 50 years.

  • How do I know my sample will not be confused with someone else's?

All samples are bar-coded and tracked through the entire process using a sophisticated sample management and logistics system. These types of management systems have been used for years to collect millions of samples.

  • Why should I work with Store-A-Tooth?

Our mission is to provide the best possible dental stem cell banking service available. The Store-A-Tooth service combines industry-leading tooth transport, cell processing, cryopreservation, and biorepository protocols and logistics. We offer a range of service options. Our team has decades of experience in dentistry, scientific research and development, and healthcare management.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT PRICING AND OPTIONS
  • Does insurance cover this service?

Not yet. However, for other stem cells such as umbilical cord stem cells, some insurers and state Medicaid programs increasingly cover cord blood banking if a close family member needs it. By analogy, as the field develops, we anticipate insurers may cover dental stem cell banking.

  • Can I pay for this with my Medical Flexible Spending Account?

At this time, stem cell banking services are not a qualifying Flexible Spending Account expense.

  • Are financial aid programs available?

We offer payment plans and need-based grants, and also offer a variety of service options to fit your budget. Call us to discuss and together we will tailor a stem cell banking plan that works for your family.


Still have questions? We’re here to help. Call and talk with a clinical specialist today.

1-877-867-5753

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