The Norwegian Tooth Bank is requesting milk teeth from 100 000 children in Norway and could become the biggest tooth bank in the world. Milk teeth can give unique information about environmental influences and nutrition in the foetus and in early childhood. The Tooth Bank is a sub-project in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa), and is a collaborative project between the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the University of Bergen.
Soon, over 100 000 babies and children will be taking part in MoBa. The new Tooth Bank, MoBaTann, is encouraging all parents who are taking part in MoBa to deposit one or more of their childs milk teeth to the new bank.
Milk teeth can give invaluable information about environmental factors and nutrition in the foetal stage and in early childhood. MoBa is collecting large amounts of information about each mothers diet and environment through pregnancy with the use of questionnaires, plus blood and urine samples from both parents. The children are followed as they grow up with a series of questionnaires. This information, together with the milk teeth, will give knowledge about the effect environmental pollutants have on childrens health.
"Milk teeth can give important information on the cause of diseases and therefore how disease can be prevented.
Globally, the Tooth Bank will be unique because of the link to the large amount of information in MoBa. If we can collect milk teeth from 100 000 children we will definitely be the largest in the world", says project leader for Tooth Bank MoBaTann, Helene Meyer Tvinnereim, at the University of Bergen.
Parents who are taking part in MoBa receive an invitation to the Tooth Bank when children are 6 years and 9 months.
"Interest from parents has been great since the first invitations were sent out in February and the first milk teeth have begun to arrive. We are asking for one or more teeth from every child," says Meyer Tvinnereim.
Milk teeth develop in the foetus and in early childhood. Substances that are built into tooth tissue during tooth development will mostly remain there. Milk teeth therefore act as a "black-box" recording of what the mother and child have been exposed to. These teeth have almost unlimited durability if they are stored dry, so that the tooths value will remain for future research.
"Milk teeth in the Tooth Bank can therefore be useful for hundreds of years," says Meyer Tvinnereim.
The milk teeth will be kept in envelopes in secure storage boxes at the University of Bergen. They will be anonymous, only identified by a bar code.
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Norwegian Institute of Public Health