Have you ever heard of tooth banking? If not, you’re not alone. I hadn’t either until recently! Over the years, I’ve gotten educated about the benefits of cord blood banking and am a total advocate for the procedure. Tooth banking has similar benefits! Back in the day, umbilical cord blood, baby teeth, and wisdom teeth were all considered medical waste. It’s totally different now. Thanks to advances in medical technology, they’re all considered potential sources of stem cells that could be used for future medical treatments.
So, how do you figure all of this out as a new parent? How do you sort through the clinical talk and medical terminology with a baby on the way? My friends at Tooth Bank sent over some information and sponsored this post to help me break it down to you. Listen, as a parent, only you can make a decision that’s best for your child. Here are some factors to consider when you’re figuring out whether tooth banking is for you.
What is the cost of tooth banking vs. cord blood banking?
Because there’s no guarantee that a child will ever need his or her stem cells for a future medical treatment, going through the process needs to be affordable. Unfortunately, private cord blood banking can be expensive, which is why only 4% of parents choose to bank privately. Depending on which company you choose, you could end up paying anywhere from $1,400 to $2,300 in initial processing fees. That figure only covers the initial collection, testing, and banking. You’d also need to pay an annual maintenance fee (an average of about $150) that covers the preservation of the stem cells. If a child does need the stem cells, the lab may charge an additional fee.
Tooth banking is far more affordable. It averages about half the cost compared to cord blood banking. If you choose to bank with Tooth Bank, you’ll only pay $475 in initial processing fees, plus an annual maintenance fee of $115. There are no additional fees for multiplying stem cells in the event the child needs them for a medical treatment, and payment plans and long-term storage discounts are available.
There are so many possibilities with stem cells!
Stem cells can become other cells, which can be used to grow new tissue. Stem cells are basically blueprints for the body. For example, if a patient has heart disease, researchers can manipulate the stem cells to become heart cells. These new heart cells can then be introduced to that patient’s heart, where the cells will get to work repairing the defective tissue. How cool is that?
Banking cord blood is awesome, but it does have some limitations. Hematopoietic stem cells are isolated from blood or bone marrow. They have the potential to become other blood cells. Because of this, HSCs can be useful in treating certain blood disorders and inherited genetic diseases. Unfortunately, most of the diseases that HSCs can treat are quite rare, which calls into question the value of private cord blood banking. Even if a child can use donor material that is publicly banked, there can be a long wait time.
Fortunately, there are more ways to use mesenchymal stem cells from teeth. MSCs can be turned into tissues and organs which means MSCs are a versatile choice for parents looking to get the most bang for their buck. Currently, MSCs are used to treat:
Cancers (including leukemia and lymphoma)
Spinal cord injuries
Bone marrow diseases
In addition, researchers are currently figuring out how to use MSCs to treat:
Type 1 diabetes
Thankfully it’s becoming easier and easier for families to access these specialized medical treatments. The numbers of stem cell clinics and the transplants they perform continue to grow.
The Collection Process
Finally, let’s compare the collection process of cord blood banking and tooth banking. Umbilical cord blood can only be collected at birth. This means parents only have one opportunity to take advantage of it. If they aren’t informed of the option, can’t afford it at that point in time, or aren’t sure which decision they should make, they can really miss out. With tooth banking, there are multiple opportunities throughout the individual’s childhood in which to make the decision to bank the stem cells, since they can be extracted from either baby teeth or wisdom teeth. This allows parents plenty of time to do their research and make an informed decision.
Get More Info from Tooth Bank
The volume of stem cells is another important consideration. When umbilical cord blood is collected, doctors can only extract a few million HSCs. This amount can be used to treat a child, but it’s not enough to use for an adult who needs a stem cell transplant. The mesenchymal stem cells found in teeth can be easily multiplied in a lab, though, so they can be used well into a person’s adult life! Tooth Bank is a family-oriented company built on solid science. They’re committed to paving the way to a healthier future for the next generation. Reach out to them for more on tooth banking. Their knowledgeable staff is always happy to answer questions from moms and dads!