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Here are some frequently asked questions and answers to provide a better understanding about stem cells and why teeth are an excellent source.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

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


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