"Honey, answer quickly: Saving your kids' teeth: cute or creepy?"
My husband Dan looks up from reading an email. No longer even bothering to question my motives he says, "First one? Cute. All of the other ones? Definitely creepy."
I call my mom and she says the same thing, which is interesting because she and Dan do that a lot when it comes to discussing the big important stuff. You know, like collecting kids' teeth. I also felt a bit of comfort in knowing that she didn't have 80 baby teeth tucked away in her dresser drawer somewhere (I have three siblings).
But when I posted the question to my various social mediums, the responses were mixed, ranging from Lauren's and Kristen's blunt "creepy" to parents who say they have saved each and every one of their children's teeth.
For instance, Kim says she saved all of her two daughters' teeth, but learned in a conversation at work that most people found the practice creepy and simply threw away their children's teeth. Another woman sent me a private message insinuating that her mother-in-law had offered to hand over a box of her husband's teeth during a recent holiday visit. The box even had "baby teeth" engraved on its top. Needless to say, she politely declined and opted instead for sentimental childhood photos.
Other parents wrote that they were carrying on a familial tradition — their parents saved their teeth, so they saved their children's. One woman said that even though she is in her 50s, she still has her own baby teeth stashed in a ring box. Another mom made me feel super disorganized because her kids' teeth are boxed and labeled, and I can't even keep my underwear drawer from looking like mayhem.
Two other mothers had me cracking up because, while they did indeed save their children's teeth, they felt a little weirded out by themselves when reflecting upon it. "I came upon them recently and it actually creeped me out a bit," Jennifer wrote. "The tooth fairy just never ditched them!"
The one comment that really interested me, however, came from Sandra, who pointed out the possible value of hanging on to your kids' baby teeth. "Some studies have found that scientists can retrieve extra stem cells through teeth (they have to be properly stored/taken care of to extract)," she wrote. "But having access to your child's stem cells is the future of medicine."
She's not incorrect. A 2003 study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences discovered potent stem cells in baby teeth, giving way to the idea that they may be used in the event of a future illness where implantation may be used, according to Scientific American. Of course, the process is not as simple as retrieving your child's teeth from your jewelry box and unearthing stem cells. Like umbilical cord blood banks, stem cell banks like Store-A-Tooth and The Tooth Bank have been created to help people properly stash their kids' pearly whites. But according to ABC News, the therapies that would use these stem cells have not yet been developed. In fact, stem cell experts say they are still a long period of time away from translating the findings into treatments. Plus, the price tag for storing teeth doesn't come cheap — according to Store-A-Tooth, their services start at $849 with annual storage fees.
All in all, to keep or not to keep your children's teeth seems like another of those parenting conversations that leaves everyone thinking, "Well, to each their own." Right? Because at the end of the day, we all have little pieces of our children's childhood that we cling to for one reason or another. Heck, it took me two years to throw away the pacifier my daughter received in the hospital and she never even used it.
Creepy? Maybe not. A tad clingy? You bet.
Now dolls that can hold your children's baby teeth in their mouth? That's a different story.
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