Banking Teeth for Stem Cell Therapy
Banking baby teeth or wisdom teeth—a practice that’s been around for about 10 years—is becoming more widely accepted in developed areas of the world, according to researchers. It involves cryopreserving teeth—and the dental stem cells they contain—for potential stem cell therapy in the future.
Most research surrounding dental stem cells and tooth banking is still in the experimental stage and, at this time, scientists disagree about whether it’s worthwhile—unlike cord blood banking, which has proven benefits for stem cell therapy. Some research suggests preserved dental stem cells could one day be used to regenerate healthy tissue and help fight complex diseases. But many experts remain less convinced of the potential benefits, as so much of the research is preliminary.
So far, the research has centered around dentin—the innermost hard layer of the tooth, below the enamel—and soft tissue beneath the dentin called pulp. The pulp contains the tooth’s nerve and blood supplies. In studying how teeth repair themselves—from a cavity, for example—researchers discovered that teeth contain stem cells. More studies are needed to determine if these dental stem cells can be harvested, preserved, stored, and someday used for stem cell therapy.
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