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Teenager fighting possible future diseases with wisdom teeth

Posted at 2:15 PM, Apr 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-24 21:26:40-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)- A San Diego teenager is turning to the dentist to defend against a possible future fight with cancer.

The Oral Surgery and Dental Implant Specialists of San Diego has always provided wisdom teeth extractions, but now they’re able to use your teeth to harvest stem cells.

Research shows wisdom teeth are rich in stem cells, similar to bone marrow, fat cells and cord blood.

"The dental pulp particularly in wisdom teeth we know is rich in stem cells," said Dr. Jonathan Stenton.

On Wednesday, they sent off their first set of wisdom teeth to Stemodontics to be harvested and banked for a 14-year-old girl.

Angelana DeTate lost both parents at a young age. Her father lost his battle to cancer and she now lives with her aunt. Her aunt, Kathy Moretto, tells 10News “her father passed away couple years ago; he had had a tumor on his gland.”

Moretto says DeTate’s uncle also lost his battle to cancer.

With a family history of the deadly disease, Moretto decided to bank DeTate’s wisdom teeth.

“I think if the stem cells were around it would have helped him prolong his life," said Moretto.

Now, Moretto is taking action to help her prepare her niece.

“If I can take her stem cells and have them there for any reason if she needs them or not, they’re there for her," said Moretto.

Unlike other areas where you can harvest stem cells: bone marrow, skin and fat cells, dental stem cells are specific to you. Meaning, you can’t donate them, you can only use them for yourself.

According to Oral Surgery and Dental Implant Specialists of San Diego, there’s an initial fee for banking your wisdom teeth to harvest stem cells of about $2,000. From there, it costs about $20 a month.