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Parents hope harvesting stem cells from baby teeth will save lives

Photo credit: KEYE TV

Stem cells hold promise for curing disease and preserving quality of life. But some forms of harvesting those stem cells, like from embryos, have been controversial. Now there is new way to do it that may save your child's life.

RJ and Cindy Brideau are the proud parents of three children. "Lauren is our oldest daughter, she is 15," RJ said. "Jack is our middle son and he is 12. And Luke is our youngest and he is nine."

You could say all of their children have a modern day tooth fairy. "So the idea is that you've kind of got a little insurance policy," RJ said. "You hope you never use it."

That insurance policy can be found in their smiles. "I think more people are just unaware that it's an opportunity," Cindy said.

RJ and Cindy are banking stem cells that have been harvested from their children's baby teeth. "I always felt guilty we didn't do cord blood as a mom and as you see your kids growing up, things happening to people," Cindy said. "My parents were diagnosed with cancer."

Dentist Dr. Monte Page says he's starting to harvest more and more baby teeth for families trying to bank stem cells. "A lot of the stems cells can be harvested out of the pulp of the teeth," Dr. Page said.

There are even kits made by Provia Laboratories called "Store-A-Tooth" that help parents preserve baby teeth that come out at a moment's notice.

"It's that early embryonic development of those cells that make that so important, so that we can grow and develop different organ tissue," Dr. Page said.

The hope is to treat diseases like cancer, diabetes and nerve damage down the road. "The thought that this could potentially solve something, to me it was never do you want to do this, it's how can you not do this," RJ said. "How can you not give yourself an opportunity that in that one chance you need it, you have it?"

And that keeps this family smiling.

The Store-A-Tooth Solution costs anywhere from $850 to $1,700. Storage fees are $120 a year.

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