SCOTTISH parents are being offered the chance to save their children’s milk teeth for possible life-saving treatment decades in the future.
A dental firm is charging £1,400 per tooth for 30 years’ storage – on the basis stem cells from the teeth could later be used to treat cancer and other conditions.
The dental practice, in Berwick-upon-Tweed, is offering the commercial service to patients in the Scottish Borders area for the first time.
Brucegate Dental Practice said the stem cells could only be used on the person who provided the milk tooth.
It is believed that stem cells have the potential to regenerate damaged or diseased tissue, and could therefore be used to treat conditions including cancer.
But parents who pay to have children’s baby teeth stored are being warned that effective treatments may never be developed.
The company carrying out the service and research is Precious Cells International, which is based in Uxbridge, west London.
Dentists at Brucegate will extract a baby tooth for £1,385 and put it in to an isotonic solution, similar to that used for storing organs for transplant.
The tooth is then taken to laboratory in London, where the stem cells are extracted, frozen in liquid nitrogen and stored.
Stem cells are currently being studied in thousands of clinical trials, to help treat several life threatening and serious illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease.
Although tests have yet to be carried out on human patients, scientists believe that stem cells from a baby tooth have great potential for clinical use in the future.
Dr Sarah Swales, who owns the dental practice, said: “Finding stem cells in teeth is quite new technology.
In the next few years I’m sure this process…is going to become as commonplace as putting a pound coin under the pillow.
“I have a personal interest in this treatment as my son has a congenital heart defect which was treated surgically at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.
“It made me aware of the serious things that can happen to you.
“I will be making sure that his tooth stem cells are stored in case he has future health problems where they can be used. You only get this chance once.”
Last year, a dentist from Glasgow had his young daughter’s stem cells put into storage with Precious Cells International.
Callum Graham extracted his daughter Becca’s two front baby teeth so that they could be frozen and used in the future if any health issues arise.