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Banking Teeth: Saving baby teeth for stem cells

Some parents are saying goodbye to the tooth fairy and instead choosing to hang on to their child's teeth for safe keeping.

7-year-old JD Kadera has lost four of his baby teeth including one just after Easter. He puts the teeth in his stuffed dog for the tooth fair to take away, "first one I got five dollars and then all the other ones I got one dollar," said JD.

But now some parents are taking a different approach and banking their kid's teeth.

"They're valuable because they have slightly different characteristics which dental stem cells seem to be good at," said Dr. Peter Verlander from Store-a-Tooth.

Yes, your children's teeth could save your child in the future by using stem cells found in baby teeth. Those stem cells have the ability to transform into different types of cells and be used to regenerate organs, and they provide hope to people suffering life-threatening conditions.

Doctors have recently discovered that stem cells found in baby teeth can potentially treat diseases like type one diabetes.   

Dr. Peter Verlander is the founder of Store-a-Tooth which is one of a handful of facilities where parents can send their children's teeth for storage, "we think of it as having different tools in a tool kit."

To bank teeth effectively, they should be pulled straight from the child’s mouth. Storing teeth can cost between $100 and $200 dollars a year, but before you make the choice to do it some doctors warn this isn’t an instant fix.

"I think it's okay to have it at the cost but you have to be educated before you jump into it," said Dr. Tim Murray. 

Right now dental stem cells can only be used in the United States as part of clinical FDA trials, "it's an emerging market. The problem is to be able to use those cells you have to meet certain criteria," said Dr. Murray.

JD’s family won’t be turning away from the tooth fairy anytime soon and as long as she keeps visiting, he’ll keep smiling.

Some tooth banks will send you a kit so you can store your child’s tooth when it falls out.

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