After the Tooth Fairy visits, parents usually do one of two things with their children’s baby teeth: either throw them away, or keep them for all eternity in some strange sort of ancient relic collection.
But did you know that the mildly obsessive act of keeping your kid’s teeth as a momento may actually help save their life one day?
According to a new scientific finding from the United States National Centre for Biotechnology Information, stem cells (which are cells that have not yet grown into a specific bodily function) derived from baby teeth can be used in future life-saving medical procedures.
And that’s vital information as medical research is increasingly finding different ways to incorporate stem cells into treatments, such as for fighting cancer, re-growing bones, reproducing eye tissue, and even treating diabetes.
LISTEN: Zoe Marshall talks about how she manages to see her friends when she has a baby. Post continues after.
Currently, stems cells are usually harvested through bone marrow, and procedures to perform the extraction can be painful for patients. But, according to the study, baby teeth are packed with bone marrow – providing easier access for doctors.
And yes, the stem cells are apparently useful even if the teeth are a decade old.
Another reason why baby teeth are so valuable is that they have had less exposure to environmental factors, and so their cells are more likely to be in prime condition.
Website sciencealert.com reports that stem cells from baby teeth can also be used to repair dental injuries, and fix dead teeth sustained from things such as sporting injuries – which are common in children.
Something to think about the next time you consider throwing out your child’s tooth after the Tooth Fairy is done paying up.
How do you store your children’s baby teeth? Tell us in the comments below.
Pregnant? Or planning? Sign up to our Before The Bump newsletter for the best stories and advice from women who’ve been there.