MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Gabriella and her mom are proud of the teeth now missing from her adorable smile. When Gabriella was six years old she had two loose baby teeth pulled out by her dentist. Gabriella describes this trip to dentist as “fun and happy.”
Gabriella’s mom, Claudia, decided to freeze her baby teeth just in case, one day, those teeth could save her daughter’s life. Gabriella has a heart defect. So her family turned to the Lexington, MA-based company Store-A-Tooth to preserve her dental stem cells.
Claudia says, “Potentially these stem cells could produce tissue which could in turn heal her valve.”
Dr. Peter Verlander at Store-A-Tooth says the dental stem cells could one day be used to treat a number of serious diseases like heart defects, diabetes, or neurological disorders. Dr. Verlander says parents, “See the potential, they see the promise, and they would like to have the tools available for their kids if and when they need them.”
Stem cell researcher, Dr. John Kessler, is skeptical of the company’s claims, “To think that this stem cell offers that potential is not just a leap a faith, its a leap over the cliff…. its always a shame to hear statements like that when people say potentially, potentially, potentially without any real scientific basis.”
He also says parents should think twice about freezing baby teeth, “I think this is just really a terrible thing that’s being done to parents to try to make them feel guilty to do something that simply shouldn’t be done.”
Store-A-Tooth says they are upfront with their clients about expectations. “We’re not out here to overpromise.”
“The parents we’ve talked to understand that this is not right around the corner. This is not next week or next month,” says Dr. Verlander. “But, they want to have the cells available to them as an option if that’s a path that bears fruit.”
The potential comes at a price. It costs parents $649 to collect and process the teeth on top of $120 a year to keep the teeth frozen in a storage lab.