AZ parents bank children's teeth as a precaution - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

AZ parents bank children's teeth as a precaution

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Baby teeth can be worth a whole lot more than what the tooth fairy has been leaving under the pillow.

Parents can harvest stem cells from their child's baby teeth with the hope these cells could cure various ailments from Parkinson's to leukemia to brain injuries.

That's why when Luis Rodriguez learned that his son needed to have his front four teeth pulled to make way for his adult teeth, he decided to save those baby teeth and harvest the stem cells.

"You never know, there are a lot of diseases that can be cured, or at least treated, with these types of blood cells so just as a precaution ... as a peace of mind, actually," said Rodriguez.

His son, Ian Rodriguez, didn't mind getting his teeth pulled.

"It didn't hurt and it actually just came out," said Ian Rodriguez.

The teeth are then sent to a lab where they determine if they can harvest enough stem cells.  If not, the company, StemSave, will not charge for the procedure.

Dr. Lisa Bienstock from Desert Ridge Pediatric Dentistry said you can also extract healthy adult teeth and wisdom teeth but it's best to get the teeth when they are young.

"And that's why we love the baby teeth stem cells because they're young and healthy, and as you get older, the amount of health cells diminish," said Bienstock.

She added that parents shouldn't just schedule to get their kids' teeth removed for no reason.

"If children need some sort of dental procedure with a tooth extraction where there's a healthy root, then we always recommend banking those teeth," said Bienstock.

Siblings can use the stem cells, but there's less of a chance of rejection if they're your own cells.

The cost varies but estimates are about $2,500.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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