Bill Zortman: It’s been awhile since I’ve seen these guys, and they’re telling me I should introduce them as superheroes. You guys have something that is really going to make a difference — already has, to a degree — Stemodontics. Who can it help?
Dr. Miller: Stemodontics is a proprietary way of spinning out stem cells from tissues in the body — in our case, the teeth have a really high number or concentration of stem cells that can be harvested and concentrated and then cryopreserved so that people can use them later on in life. Right now, a lot of the things that are up and coming for the use of stem cells are still in the experimental stage, or they’re still in the first trial stage, but if you’re a kid that had missed the opportunity to get cord blood when you were born, this is a second opportunity maybe when you get your wisdom teeth out to take those teeth. We send them to the company, Stemodontics, and they harvest the stem cells, put them on ice as it were, and then you have them for use later on in your life if you need them. So, we all know technology is growing by leaps and bounds, so you might not need them now, but certainly within 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, they’re going to be able to adapt stem cells for different kinds of treatments — things such as multiple sclerosis is starting, macular degeneration, all kinds of different things can be used for stem cells.
Bill Zortman: So, a second chance — a lot of people didn’t even know there was a first chance. So, when we start talking about that, who ought to be paying attention to this? What age? Does it make a difference on age? Does it make a difference as to the kind of condition they’re in?
Dr. Miller: Age, just like with everything, does make a difference. So, the younger you are, the more potent, if you will, your stem cells will be. They’ll be able to reproduce more of them once they activate them, and so certainly when you’re younger — 14, 15, 16 – and that’s why wisdom teeth are the prototypical example because many people need those out anyway, so you’re not subjecting somebody to a separate procedure, and you can make use of the material. Now, if you have a cracked tooth, maybe when you’re 40 or 50, well, before it completely dies on you and the pulp (we call it necrosis) — you can have that extracted, and you can submit that tooth to have the stem cells spun out of it and preserved. That’s what I did for one of my teeth when I had it cracked, and so I have a little stem cells floating around at Stemodontics waiting for use. Hopefully, I won’t have to use them ever, but I got them.
Bill Zortman: Dr. Denis Miller and Dr. Lou George, Sioxuland Oral Surgery. Dr. George, when we start talking about this, we start thinking of Star Trek and start thinking of going to the back or going to the front. If we’re going to the future, this could be a pretty good answer.
Dr. George: You know, it really is a great insurance policy, like Dr. Miller said, especially since a lot of people didn’t know or don’t know about the first chance to bank that very valuable cord blood when little ones are born, so they’ve already made a lot of groundbreaking research dealing with certain conditions, most of which Dr. Miller mentioned. But one he didn’t mention was also Alzheimer’s, and they are really utilizing these stem cells to not only combat the effects of Alzheimer’s and to delay them, but of course, the end goal is always reversal. So, it really is a very interesting topic, and it is not very expensive to bank these. And again, we’re offering that at our office, and anyone who is interested, we would love to chat with them further during our consultation.
Bill Zortman: Got to ask you, what about insurance companies? Are they helping, or are they just sitting on the sidelines? What are they doing?
Dr. Miller: As with a lot of different novel or up-and-coming techniques, unfortunately, insurance companies don’t offer a benefit for this, though we’re always hopeful that in the future they will.
Bill Zortman: So, there’s hope. But as we learn more in medicine, learn more ways to stay alive and make a bit more insurance payments down the road, I would think that maybe there would be an interest.
Dr. George: Absolutely. I mean, take a look, for just an easy example, at dental implants, for example. For the longest time, insurance companies wouldn’t have anything to do with them. In fact, they simply labeled them as a cosmetic solution. Now that the American Dental Association has really kind of given them the gold-standard stamp for single tooth replacement, now more and more insurance companies are covering them to some degree, if not completely. So, the same can be said of all these new and up-and-coming medical treatments, such as the stem cell banking. You know, in 10 years from now, it could be an entirely covered process.
Bill Zortman: Do you have a deposit card? Can you check it out? You take it for a walk — what do you do? Is the process really simple? You said that you did it, Dr. Miller.
Dr. Miller: Sure. You extract the tooth, and you literally drop it into a medium to preserve it, and then you overnight it to their facility, and they break apart the tooth, find the cells, and then they, we call them spin them out based on their weight, and then they preserve them using cryogenics. So, there’s not a lot that we personally do with them, other than take the —
Bill Zortman: You’ve harvested.
Dr. Miller: You know, that’s a good way of putting it. We live in an agricultural community, and this is our harvest.
Bill Zortman: And I think farmers will understand that when they get a good harvest. When they don’t, then they have questions. They don’t quite understand. But, if you’re talking Alzheimer’s, if you’re talking Parkinson’s, if you’re talking a lot of these different diseases, and people are worried that it’s in their family tree, they want to have some kind of insurance that there’s something that they can go to.
Dr. George: And that’s precisely what this affords people. And, like Dr. Miller said, a majority of people need to have these wisdom teeth extracted anyway, and it’s not an extra process, per se, that they have to go through. The teeth are removed, and then the cells are harvested. So, it’s really a no-brainer if, like you said, that is in your family tree especially, why not bank ahead for the future? And that’s what the Stemodontics program is all about.
Bill Zortman: Alright, so how does somebody that’s listening today get started? They say, “I think I ought to bank something. I think I should have something.” How do they get started?
Dr. Miller: When they make their appointment with us, they should let our front office know that they‘d interested in harvesting the teeth to send to Stemodontics, and that way we can make sure that we have the proper materials and mediums and canisters all ready for them, so that when we do the surgery, we can send their product out that day. That way there’s no delay, and then there’s less of a risk of the cells not being able to be harvested at that point. I think one other thing we should probably mention is that we have no — it’s a nondisclosure — we have no monetary interest in this company, and we don’t really make any money off of it either. We’re just offering this as part of a service to what we do already.
Bill Zortman: It’s what you do in medicine. I mean, you take care of people, make sure that they’re as healthy as long as they can be, and you give them every option. With you, if you had one tooth that you sent over, you put it in the bank, and you needed something else five years later, would you save more than one tooth? Are there more stem cells that can be split and used different times in your life where you need that help?
Dr. Miller: Well, I think that the more stem cells you have, the better, because they can — they call it clonally expanding them. You can only make them reproduce so many times over, so if you have one tooth that’s out, well you get a certain number of stem cells from that. But if you were taking three or four teeth out, you can submit them all, and then they’ll get far more stem cells to be able to bank them for future use.
Bill Zortman: Alright, dumb question, but you two guys work together so well, and I’ve seen you on stage. Dr. Miller has it; why does Dr. George not have it?
Dr. George: Well, I have to have a tooth taken out first.
Bill Zortman: Well, don’t you think you could take one out? Wouldn’t you want it banked? Wouldn’t it be more valuable in a bank?
Dr. George: You know, when that tooth has to come out, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Meaning that, next time, in the future, if I ever need a tooth extracted, you bet I’m doing it. Without a doubt.
Bill Zortman: Alright, how do they find you guys?
Dr. Miller: Well, maybe we’ll run a special. Someone can come and take out both of your front teeth.
Bill Zortman: Whoa.
Dr. George: I certainly know who can restore them or put them back in, so I’m in good hands.
Bill Zortman: Siouxland Oral Surgery — Dr. Lou, Dr. Denis, we appreciate the visit.
Dr. Miller: Thank you very much.
Dr. George: Thanks a lot. It’s always a pleasure.