Stem cells in general are not a new concept. They’ve been included in medical journals for about 100 years and the definition of stem cells is just about as old-undifferentiated cells that not only have the capacity for self-renewal, but also the ability to produce specific cells needed for a wide range of tissue regeneration and therapeutic applications.
Stem cells in general are not a new concept. They’ve been included in medical journals for about 100 years and the definition of stem cells is just about as old-undifferentiated cells that not only have the capacity for self-renewal, but also the ability to produce specific cells needed for a wide range of tissue regeneration and therapeutic applications. Adult stem cells have been used since the 1950s when bone marrow transplants were introduced.
As parents, my wife and I chose to bank the cord blood stem cells for both our children. Understanding the pace of stem cell research and scientific advancements made virtually every day, we decided we couldn’t risk not having the autogenous stem cells of our own children safely stored for future potential use.
More opportunity for peace of mind
One issue with cord blood stem cells is the narrow window of collection opportunity. If parents don’t plan ahead to have the umbilical cord blood collected at the time of their child’s birth, that’s it. There are several reasons parents may miss this once in a lifetime opportunity-lack of money, lack of knowledge or both.
When I first heard about the availability of dental stem cell preservation, I was intrigued and excited for several reasons:
I knew I wanted to offer this service to my patients, so I researched several existing dental stem cell preservation companies before selecting Store-A-Tooth from Provia Labs.
My decision was based on the Provia Labs management team’s deep stem cell and biobanking experience, Provia’s biobanking facility’s impeccable credentials, and the fact that the Store-A-Tooth program makes dental stem cell collection and preservation incredibly easy for dentists and patients alike. As a clinician and a parent who banked my child’s stem cells, how could I not offer this more convenient and less invasive option to my own patients?
Before I could introduce Store-A-Tooth dental stem cell preservation to my patients, I had to get my entire team on board-not an easy task considering the average person, including dental professionals, knows little about stem cells.
My Store-A-Tooth representative came to my practice and helped me train my treatment coordinators. Once my treatment coordinators were properly trained, I enlisted them to help me explain the Store-A-Tooth program and process to the rest of my team.
As we all know, practicing dentistry isn’t static, therefore there is a continuous need to educate our team members and patients about the availability of new dental-medical technology and how it applies to each of us.
Fortunately, the Store-A-Tooth program includes a plethora of clinician and patient education materials, CE modules and videos that are readily available online. To their credit, Provia Labs has left no stone unturned when it comes to providing clinical training and patient education tools.
This information must be proactively shared with the entire dental team. I’ve learned from experience that if I’m the only person in the practice who understands and promotes a new technology, it won’t be integrated well into the practice. Here’s why: When most dentists first explain new procedures or technology to their patients, they tend to nod their heads and smile. Only when the doctor leaves the room do they feel comfortable enough to ask the staff what they think of the dentist’s recommended technology or treatment.
When my team enthusiastically endorses a new concept, the patient acceptance rate dramatically increases. When my team members completely understand and endorse a product or procedure, that ultimately makes patients more comfortable to commit to a procedure that may initially be difficult for them to understand or justify.
I have found that virtually any patient is open to hearing about dental stem cell collection and preservation, but the patients who opt for the service are often those who have friends or family with medical conditions that could have been helped if only they had stored stem cells.
At the present time we explain this option to patients after we’ve recommended a tooth extraction. The Store-A-Tooth brochures and signs in our office have helped create a general awareness of the dental stem cell preservation benefits. Everyone on my staff-receptionists, hygienists and assistants-are all well-qualified to answer questions from interested patients.
Making it part of your practice
The Store-A-Tooth procedure follows these easy-to-integrate steps:
1. The doctor discusses the basic concepts of dental cells and what dental stem cells may be potentially used for. If there are no questions, the doctor leaves.
2. The assistant or hygienist remains in the room to answer any questions the patient may have.
3. The assistant or hygienist brings the patient to the treatment coordinator.
4. The treatment coordinator explains the dental stem cell collection and preservation process to the patient and shows him or her the Store-A-Tooth kit.
5. The staff assists the patient in contacting Provia Labs/Store-A-Tooth to get further information, enroll with the company, and receive the collection kit.
6. The patient is either scheduled for an extraction here or referred to an oral surgeon. Either doctor can perform the tooth collection process and submit the case directly to Provia Labs.
Like all new technological breakthroughs, it takes time to integrate these steps into our standard routine. Once most dental practices adopt dental stem cell collection, our profession will have the potential to be the starting point for overall systemic preventive medicine. This positions the dentist to be a key player in patients’ comprehensive medical care, thus elevating your dental practice’s stature in your patients’ mind.
Peter Rivoli, DDS, is the Managing Partner of Rivoli & Rivoli Orthodontics, practicing in the Rochester, New York community since 1989. He prepared for his career through studies at Ohio Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Pre-Dental; Masters Research from SUNY Buffalo Department of Oral Medicine; School of Dental Medicine from SUNY of Buffalo with a DDS degree; and the Eastman Dental Center, University of Rochester with a Certificate of Orthodontics. He completed Peter Dawson’s Center for Advanced Dental Study and Mark Piper’s Advanced TMD (temporomandibular joint) Training. Dr. Rivoli served as past president of the Monroe County Dental Society and is a member of the American Association of Orthodontics.