There is a new tooth fairy in town who will not give you money in exchange of your teeth, but a chance at survival and cure.
Store Your Cells, India’s first dental stem cell bank, was launched in Mulund last Monday, bringing to the country a medical procedure that’s been in commercial use in the United States for more than two years.
“Dental stem cells are multi-potent, which means they can regenerate several cell and tissue types such as bone, nerve, muscle, cartilage, teeth and fat,” said Dr Kedar Gadgil, a UK-based implant dentist who runs Dhruv Polyclinic, where the bank has been launched. “They are also accessible easily and painlessly, since they come from something as basic as one’s milk or wisdom teeth.”
The other two sources of stem cells are bone marrow and the umbilical cord. While the tapping the former is a painful procedure the latter is not multi-potent and is used chiefly for curing blood disorders, said Dr Gadgil. Dental stem cells can help regrow cells of a large number of body parts damaged due to accidents or degenerative diseases.
“When I read about dental stem cell preservation a few years ago, I realised that India has not just the potential but also the need for it,” said Dr. Gadgil, who calls it a “genuine form of health insurance”.
At Gadgil’s clinic, milk and wisdom teeth or healthy teeth extracted during orthodontal treatment are sent to a laboratory in the US, where they are cryopreserved (frozen under suitable conditions) for future use.
Independent doctors are still sceptical about the regenerative powers of stem cells to cure various ailments.