Losing a first tooth is something of a rite of passage for kids everywhere. It’s a sign that you’re growing up and getting bigger. And if you’re like a lot of people, it also meant a little cash under your pillow in the morning from the “tooth fairy.”
And if you grew up to have kids of your own, maybe you remember taking on the time-honored role of tooth fairy and slipping some money under your kids’ pillows to celebrate this new stage in their lives. And the kids get to buy a little something for themselves, or like one little boy, pay it forward with a kind gesture.
But what do you do with the tooth after you swap it out for a dollar? Some people keep them as sentimental keepsakes, but many simply toss them. After all, what can a shed baby tooth really do for you?
Well, as it turns out, quite a bit.
A study in 2003 showed that baby teeth are a rich source of stem cells, which are like protocells that can be grown into multiple kinds of cells if needed.
That means that if later in life, a child needs replacement tissue for whatever reason, the stem cells from their baby teeth can be used to grow the needed tissue. Pretty amazing!
Potentially, the practice of storing baby teeth could save lives and treat a variety of ailments. Read on to learn more about this amazing process.
Losing baby teeth, or deciduous teeth, as they’re properly known, is a rite of passage for kids everywhere.
Most of us can remember that first little wiggle that let us know a change was coming, and then the weird absence of a tooth when it finally fell out.
But what we remember the most? The promise of a cash reward, courtesy of the tooth fairy!
The tooth fairy tradition actually goes back pretty far, and some link it back to old Norse culture, where baby teeth were considered good luck.
Other cultures around the world also have specific traditions involving baby teeth.
As it turns out, baby teeth really can bring good fortune, but it’s less the magical kind, and more the medicinal kind — although modern medicine is pretty amazing!
In 2003, a study determined that baby teeth contain stem cells and that if preserved quickly after falling out, the stem cells can be stored for years and kept in case of later medical problems in life.
So if you thought getting a dollar for your tooth was cool, then getting the chance to grow any kind of tissue, from heart cells to brain cells, and repair damaged tissue is really cool.
But there’s one catch: the baby teeth have to be kept fresh. Like anything, stem cells degrade and lose their potency over time.
So simply keeping your child’s baby teeth in a box isn’t going to cut it.
Instead, parents can use services like Store-A-Tooth to properly preserve their children’s teeth.
The teeth are placed in a liquid nitrogen cryopreservation vault, where the stem cells will remain intact and usable for years.
If later in life, the child, who may be an adult at this point, needs their stem cells, the teeth are taken out of storage and shipped to their doctor.
It seems like all the cultures that had superstitions about the power of baby teeth were, in a strange way, actually onto something!
If you’d like to know more about storing baby teeth for your kids or grandkids, check out Store-A-Tooth for more information.