WSVN -- These days, Miami Beach Oral Surgeon Jeffrey Blum is pulling teeth with a purpose.
Dr. Jeffrey Blum: "We take out teeth quite often, and usually, we just throw the teeth away."
But instead of throwing them out, he's now giving his patients the option of saving their teeth. That's because scientists have found that our teeth actually contain thousands of potentially live-saving stem cells.
Dr. David Matzilevich, Scientific Advisor, StemSave: "The medical advances are truly becoming remarkable. Stem cells are going to become the central players in the fields of regenerative medicine."
A lot of parents these days save their child's umbilical cord or afterbirth to harvest stem cells. That's not an option for adults. But now, scientists have learned, teeth are an option.
Dr. Jeffrey Blum: "The best time to harvest the stem cells are with baby teeth. After that, we're looking at the wisdom teeth or any other teeth that may need to come out."
So that means any healthy, viable tooth can be used.
Here's how it works. Dentists mail the teeth to a lab, like StemSave in Massachusetts. The lab then harvests stem cells from the tooth's pulp and freezes the cells until you need them.
Dr. David Matzilevich: "They are stored at extremely low temperatures."
The hope is, your own stem cells may someday help cure health problems.
Dr. David Matzilevich: "Those cell members would be grown to generate millions upon millions of stem cells that could be used for medical applications."
When Robert Arkin's daughter, Brittani, was born 18 years ago, stem cell research was still in its infancy.
Robert Arkin: "There was no opportunity to go ahead and save any embryonic fluids or blood from the umbilical cord."
So when it was time for Brittani to get her wisdom teeth taken out a few months ago, they decided, it was worth it to bank her teeth's stem cells.
Brittani Arkin: "It's nice to know that the option is there if I do get sick or there is an accident."
Robert Arkin: "Most people buy insurance for the death of somebody, not the life of somebody. I know that it is an insurance that my daughter, if she has a health problem that can utilize these stem cells, they're available."
It's insurance they hope they'll never have to use.
Diana Diaz: "Banking stem cells is not cheap. It's around $500 for extracting the stem cells and $100 a year to store them. And some experts argue, the odds of stem cells ever coming in handy are slim to none, so it's not worth the expense."
For More Information:
Dr. Jeffrey Blum4308 Alton Road #850Miami Beach, FL 33140(305) 538-4556
StemSave, Inc.526 West 26th Street Suite 622 New York, NY 10001 1-877-StemSave