There are lots of creative ways to showcase your child's little chompers, if you're a parent who celebrates when they lose a pearly white. Aside from creative and sentimental preservation, there are also medical reasons to hold on to baby teeth. How to preserve baby teeth is truly a personal parental choice, but if it's up your alley, here are some interesting possibilities for what to do with baby teeth.
How to Best Preserve Baby Teeth for Crafty Uses
Parents hold on to baby teeth or milk teeth for all sorts of different reasons. Some want to save the tiny little things to better remember the baby years, and others store them for future medical purposes. If you are storing teeth for future projects, you'll want to preserve them to properly stand the test of time.
- Clean the teeth with soap and water.
- Disinfect the teeth thoroughly by brushing the teeth with rubbing alcohol.
- Dry teeth completely before storing to prevent bacteria from developing.
Creative and Sentimental Things to Do With Baby Teeth
It can be hard to let go of the baby years. Parents who want to remember every aspect of their child's early years might consider preserving baby teeth. There are several interesting and creative ways to do this, and these ideas prove that you don't have to put teeth in a plastic baggie and store them on the top closet shelf.
Save Pearly Whites in a Specialized Box
Tooth fairy boxes are an extremely popular and cute means of storing teeth. The concept of stowing teeth away in a keepsake box isn't all that unique, but some of the boxes themselves are. You can easily find boxes with placeholders for the tiny teeth included inside them, keeping them organized and safe.
Turn Teeth Into High-End Jewelry
You can take your kid's lost tooth and send it to a jewelry company that grinds and polishes it down, so that it shines as a precious stone would. These companies then take the polished tooth and set it into stunning jewelry.
Use Teeth in Science Experiments
Wondering about the effects of soda pop, coffee, or tea on teeth enamel? Pop those baby teeth into relevant liquids and find out! Baby teeth can be used in many science experiments that are both fun and educational.
Make a Baby Tooth Bank
You can buy baby tooth banks or make them. Essentially, you have a box or ceramic bank where the tooth fairy puts any loot that she drops off to you. The fallen teeth each have a small spot of honor surrounding the box, where they are displayed.
Bury Baby Teeth
In some cultures, burying teeth is a common practice. Some Native American tribes believe in burying baby teeth east of a sage bush. In Turkish culture, a baby tooth is buried at a place with some connection to the child who lost the tooth. Parents bury the lost tooth in a space that's related to the child's hopes and dreams, or a place sentimental to the family for other reasons.
Create a Baby Tooth Book
You can create a baby book with a section just for teeth, or a book entirely devoted to storing baby teeth. Each page in the tooth section or each page in the tooth book has a place for writing, a spot for a photograph, and an attached envelope for the tooth. Parents can write where their child was and what they were doing when they lost their tooth, along with the date that the tooth fell out. They can snap a picture of their kiddo smiling, tooth gaps and all, and place it on the page along with the tooth loss description. Finally, parents can slip the tooth into the envelope attached to the page for safekeeping.
Okay. Everyone needs to sit down for this one and mentally prepare themselves for what they are about to read. Parents can take their children's teeth and sew them into dolls and stuffed animal's mouths. This might seem like an ingenious craft at first, but in doing something like this, you run the risk of terrifying your child and then committing to having them in your bed every night until they leave for college.
To be fair, this doll, The Fuggler, is sold online and doesn't contain human teeth, although they look totally real. Now, you all know some mom or dad out there saw this creation and thought to themselves... I can do that all on my own, boosting the creep factor into orbit.
Medical Reasons to Save Baby Teeth
Parents are now being encouraged to save milk teeth for reasons other than nostalgia. Experts say those tiny teeth could possess the power to save your child's life someday, should it ever be necessary.
The Possible Power That the Tooth Possesses
Milk teeth are thought to be a rich source of stem cells, which can be used to cultivate additional cells someday if your child ever needs them. If your child required stem cells, say for tissue transplant purposes, their own cells would be their best bet for a perfect match. Using the body's stem cells essentially creates this match, reducing any concern of rejection or inability to find the right donor.
At this point, storing teeth for medical purposes is still in the initial stages, and the process has yet to be approved by the FDA. Who knows, with science and time, someday baby teeth could become as powerful a source of stem cells as placental stem cells and umbilical cord blood.
The Preservation Process: From a Medical Standpoint
Until that time comes, parents have to decide if storing baby teeth at a tissue bank is worth the time, care, and money it costs. Storing baby teeth for possible future medical purposes is not the same as keeping them for a crafty project. The storage process is more expensive and more complex.
- A kit is sent to a child's dentist's office, where the baby tooth is extracted while it is still wiggly. Waiting for teeth to spontaneously fall can reduce the stem cell recovery process.
- The dentist places the tooth in the pre-sent kit designed to keep the tooth alive.
- The kit is retrieved and overnighted to a lab for processing.
Cost of Medical Tooth Preservation
Parents wanting to store teeth for possible future medical use are going to pay up. Storing tissue isn't cheap, and storing teeth is no exception. On average, parents will pay anywhere from an initial extraction and collection fee of $500 to almost $1800, depending on the company that they choose. Aside from the initial charge, an annual fee in the ballpark of $120 is paid for the storage of the tooth. Each kit costs parents. If parents send a tooth in January, and several months later, they send another tooth, the costs are independent of one another. If parents place several teeth in one kit, only a single processing fee is charged.
Your Kid, Your Teeth, Your Decision
What you decide to do with your child's teeth is entirely up to you and you alone. You can choose to keep them for sentimental reasons, bank them for possible future medical needs, or toss them out with yesterday's garbage. When it comes to keeping baby teeth, there are definitely different strokes for different folks.