My office strives to give residents of Encino, Tarzana, Woodland Hills, Sherman Oaks, West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley the highest quality dental care possible. We use the best techniques, material and equipment available, based on the latest research and discussions with lecturers at conferences.
I love to hear about cutting-edge research and make it my business to keep patients and my office staff informed. I think that’s part of what it means to be a caring dentist.
Researchers have been working feverishly for years to find clinical applications for stem cells, which have the remarkable ability morph into different cell types. Early in life, stem cells naturally divide and either remain as stem cells or are signaled to turn into specialized cells to build muscle, bone, blood, teeth, etc. Researchers have discovered that some of these cells can be artificially prompted in the lab to turn into specified tissue or organ cells.
In the beginning, lots of controversy surrounded regenerative medicine because the cells used initially in research were embryonic stem cells. Since then, other rich sources of these cells have been identified. Stem cells have been harvested from adults, and dental stem cells were discovered by scientists at the National Institutes of Health in 2000. Advances built on that discovery have been a catalyst for human clinical trials to treat gum disease and regenerate alveolar bone – the bone that holds the tooth sockets.
Experts think dental stem cells hold promise in cell-based therapies for spinal cord injury, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease and even diabetes. The real kicker is that these dental stem cells are easily available in every household with children! Why? Their baby teeth! Those little pearls on the end of strings (not my preferred method of removal) are a potent source of active stem cells!
And now there are reputable services – such as StemSave and Store-a-Tooth – that help parents bank this precious material for their children. Youngsters going to the dentist’s office to have healthy baby teeth (or wisdom teeth) removed for braces can harvest them for future use, if ever needed. The tooth is medically stored in an FDA-approved and ADA-accepted kit and shipped to facilities where they undergo cryopreservation (really cold stuff). Although there are currently no FDA-approved clinical therapies using dental stem cells for consumers, I firmly believe that’s only a matter of time.
Earlier this year, scientists were able to get dental stem cells harvested from the pulp of baby teeth to generate islet-like cells. Islets are tiny organs in the pancreas that produce insulin, which helps the body regulate blood sugar. This promising research may help us fight the diabetes epidemic plaguing 25.8 million people in the United States. That’s 8.3 percent of the population, says the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
In another study, researchers were able to get stem cells to generate jaw bone material, which may someday spell relief for TMJ sufferers. Other cell therapy scientists have their eyes on solving the organ shortage for transplantation and treating arthritis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and severe burns.
In summary, FocusedCareDental.com backs dental stem cell harvesting for the following reasons:
- It’s non-invasive, unlike harvesting bone marrow stem cells.
- It hosts fewer ethical concerns than embryonic cell use.
- It’s easier and less costly than umbilical cord blood collection/storage.
- The time frame for action is broader – whole childhood vs. the birth event.
- It holds potential treatment, should your child – heaven forbid – ever get seriously sick.
Tip of the Day: Is your teen complaining about swollen lymph nodes or a painful lump in the back of his mouth? Is his breath bad enough to knock over a stout horse? It could be an emerging wisdom tooth. The third molars come in between 17-25 years of age. When these teeth are only partially erupted, food and bacteria can collect under the gum flap, causing an infection and swelling. Make an appointment, and I’ll check it out. In the meantime, have your teen brush, floss and swish warm salt water several times a day.
Best regards, AM