By Karen Davis, RDH, BSDH
As I listened to the presentation by Store-A-Tooth, a service of Provia Labs, last February at the Chicago Midwinter Dental Meeting about the potential to use stem cells from teeth in treating various medical conditions, I got a bit teary-eyed.
My daughter, Madeline, has Crohn’s Disease and was scheduled to have her wisdom teeth extracted in May. The idea of preserving her stem cells from extracted wisdom teeth through Store-A-Tooth strongly resonated with me. I did not bank my daughter’s cord blood and did not want to miss another opportunity should future research provide a pathway to use dental stem cells to treat diseases.
The process is so simple. All arrangements with Provia Labs had been made and a box would be shipped to my home with the Store-A-Tooth™ kit necessary to ship the teeth back to the lab following extraction. In it were cold packs which I simply needed to freeze the night before her procedure, safely and securely preserving the integrity of the dental stem cells inside the pulp of the teeth. The only thing I needed to do was freeze the cold packs. The thing is, I forgot…
The morning of her procedure, I nervously searched my freezer for frozen peas or frozen anything that could keep the teeth cool enough to ship them to Store-A-Tooth. On the way to the dental office I received a calm phone call from Store-A-Tooth and I shamefully confessed my mistake, but was reassured that I would have plenty of time to freeze the cold packs at the dentist with the courier pick-up. My daughter went into the treatment room and the dentist informed me that medicine my daughter had taken coupled with her restlessness the previous night, created a situation in which she had become somewhat combative to the nitrous oxide sedation. They recommended we reschedule the extractions with an oral surgeon and IV sedation.
Almost miraculously within the hour, I found an opening that day with an oral surgeon we trusted, and gathered up my daughter to drive her over to the next office. I called Store-A-Tooth on the way to ask them to change the courier pick-up to the oral surgeon’s office. Unfazed, they got the new address for pick-up, reminded me to freeze the cold packs at the surgeon’s office and at pick-up, they would be cold enough to safely transport the wisdom teeth, preserving the precious stem cells.
While waiting for my daughter, it occurred to me that throughout my haste and panic that morning when I opened the box from Store-A-Tooth, I had accidentally discarded the customized shipping box to return the container holding the teeth, cold packs and protective foam. I then did what most stressed out dental hygienist moms would do; I called her dad and asked him to rush to the FedEx Office and buy a shipping box and bring it to us. Just as Madeline was being wheeled out , her dad pulled up with five choices of shipping boxes just to be safe. The next day, I received a call from Store-A-Tooth that the teeth had arrived and all went well. Finally, I was relieved that my mistakes did not spoil the opportunity to bank Madeline’s stem cells and that Store-A-Tooth was well prepared to handle consumer errors because clearly, things happen.
I was fortunate to learn about the Store-A-Tooth™ service at a dental meeting but patients need to learn about it directly from their dental professional. Presently, the majority of extracted wisdom teeth and primary teeth are discarded. Don’t let them go to waste --
Take a few moments to visit Store-A-Tooth's link for Published Research, the page that lists current research related to dental stem cells. As dental professionals, we have a huge opportunity and responsibility to be the “liaison” between emerging dental research and clinical applications for our patients.