Dental Stem Cell Research
Dental professionals are very excited because scientists have found that our teeth contain valuable stem cells that, if properly stored, could potentially hold the cure to a number of diseases, like Parkinson’s, diabetes, and cancer, and with the future potential to help heal spinal cord injuries, as well.
Stem cell research has been immersed in controversy over the years for many reasons, with the main issues including the following:
- Embryonic stem cells carry technical and ethical challenges.
- Bone marrow stem cells are very painful to collect.
- Cord blood stem cells can only be harvested at birth.
However, with the discovery of stem cells in teeth, an accessible and readily available source of stem cells has been identified. What’s more, dental stem cells are very convenient to collect, while possessing similar benefits for the development of new restorative medical therapies.
Extracting teeth poses a much lower risk than harvesting stem cells via more invasive surgical procedures, and patients also experience far fewer complications. Dentists can now be at the forefront of regenerative medicine, and also serve as a valuable ally to the medical and research communities.
Dental stem cell research, collection, and storage are gaining strong momentum in the dental industry. For example, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) Council on Clinical Affairs published a policy on stem cells that contained this statement:
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recognizes the emerging field of regenerative medicine and encourages dentists to follow future evidence-based literature in order to educate parents about the collection, storage, viability, and use of dental stem cells with respect to autologous regenerative therapies.
A child’s tooth under the pillow may be worth a buck, but that same tooth, properly collected and stored, will be far more valuable in the future.