It may be time to add to your patient education repertoire and daily communication messages.
by Kristine Hodsdon, RDH
To further become proactive professionals who build trust and awareness beyond traditional “brushing and flossing” conversations, many dental office teams are searching for cutting-edge messages that help educate their patients.
Lately, the topic of “stem cells” has been at the top of the mind with many consumers and dental professionals.
Overview of stem cells
Saving a tooth could help protect your patient’s health. Being able to save a tooth, enables families to collect and preserve the stem cells from their own teeth. Stem cells are found in baby teeth that are naturally coming out, as well as other healthy teeth that are being extracted, such as wisdom teeth.
Dental stem cells have the potential to be used in both dental and medical applications, and have already been shown to regenerate jaw bone and treat periodontal disease in humans. Similar to cord blood stem cells (which have been used to treat leukemia and blood-related cancers), dental stem cells are being studied to see how they could someday play a role in treating conditions such as type 1 diabetes, spinal cord injury, stroke, heart attack, and neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
How to advise patients about stem cell banking
Love them or hate them, the daily huddle is a “best practice” success tip for dental teams. The few minutes that we commit for a daily meeting will result in focused and inspired actions that will achieve optimal connections each day. In regard to “stem cell banking,’’ a daily huddle is a time to explore the days patients and create communication plans.
“Potential” patient categories for related conversations include:
- A patient who may be losing a tooth, or the parent of a child who may be losing a tooth
- A parent or guardian of a high school or college student whose treatment plan includes wisdom tooth extraction
- A pregnant patient who would benefit from learning about stem cells since she may have researched banking their newborn's cord blood
- A patient with diabetes may be interested in learning about the recent studies showing that stem cells from teeth can produce islet‐like cells, which produce insulin in a glucose‐responsive manner. This is still early research, but it suggests that dental stem cells may play a role in a future treatment for diabetes
- Families with a known health risk (diabetes, spinal cord injury, cardiovascular disease, etc.)
Patients want and expect us to provide information for the betterment of their overall health as much as they do for oral health. Providing a variety of health information and resources beyond “teeth” shifts our patients’ perception of the value of your office and you as an expert. In a competitive environment, dental professionals who can engage patients with recent, relevant health information, adding to the traditional topics of “treatment,” will also build one-on-one relationships with patients and attract new patients.
Differentiation of dental pulp stem cells into islet-like aggregates.
Policy on Stem Cells
Insider tip for RDH eVillage readers: Store-a-Tooth is creating dedicated resources for hygienists and team members to support your efforts in providing stem cell health messages. No-cost sign up, and you will receive communication pamphlets and access to additional materials for patient education.