Stories about: dental health

Tooth emergencies: what to do in the event of a trauma

Meaghan O’Keeffe, RN, BSN, is a mother, writer and nurse. She worked at Boston Children’s Hospital for nearly a decade,  in both the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and the Pre-op Clinic.  She is a regular contributor to Thriving.

One glorious evening, my 3-year-old son, Tommy, wiggled like crazy while I attempted to undress him for his bath. He took a misstep, assuming I was holding his weight. I wasn’t. He fell mouth first onto the bathtub edge.

I’m a nurse who’s seen my fair share of bodily fluids and cardiac arrests. There isn’t much that fazes me. But there’s one thing I can’t handle.

I don’t do teeth.

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Special Olympics: How I become a ‘believer’ over this very special summer

By Marc Bernard Ackerman, DMD, MBA, FADPD, FACD, Director of Orthodontics, Boston Children’s Hospital

Marc Ackerman

Every September, I’m taken back to the fourth grade when Mrs. Henderson passed out black and white marble-colored journals to our class. She explained that over the course of the year we were going to keep a record of all our important fourth grade memories. Our first assignment was to answer the question: what was the most meaningful thing you did this summer?

All these years later, I can’t remember what I wrote, but I do remember Mrs. Henderson being underwhelmed by the responses she saw. One kid wrote about visiting a relative on a farm and riding a tractor. Another bragged about attending NASA space camp. Fun times for a child, but what I think Mrs. Henderson was hoping for was a recount by a student who had spent his time helping someone else. In keeping with that theme, Mrs. Henderson spent the year exposing us to can drives for the hungry, blanket drives for the homeless, spring clean-up at the school park and many other volunteer activities.

It was a concept that resonated with me, but throughout my professional education and career thus far, finding time to devote to altruistic activities has been hard. Any excess of time has been taken for professional development, and more recently, to starting a family of my own.

However, my outlook on how to allocate “free” time and how it related to helping others was forever changed this past summer when my good friend and colleague, Steve Perlman, DDS, invited me to participate in a train-the-trainer session for Healthy Athletes/Special Smiles held at the Special Olympics Southern California.

At first, I was slightly hesitant to accept the offer to become the Healthy Athletes/Special Smiles Clinical Director, because I doubted I’d ever have the time to devote so much it to that movement. Fortunately for me, Steve’s not the kind of guy who takes “no” for an answer.

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Is there a connection between dental X-rays and brain tumors?

Image: Flickr/radiant guy

The Boston Globe featured a study last week associating frequent dental X-rays with benign brain tumors called meningiomas. Despite the findings, says Man Wai Ng, DDS, MPH, Boston Children’s chief of Dentistry, you should still focus more on your child’s teeth than his or her brain when they’re in the dentist’s chair.

That’s because it’s unlikely that most children will have dental X-rays frequently enough to raise their tumor risk. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), the American Dental Association and the Food and Drug Administration all offer recommendations and guidelines for dental X-rays in children, with a big focus on minimizing X-ray exposure.

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Why are cavities on the rise for younger children?

Thanks to better brushing habits, increased access to fluoride and regular trips to the dentist, Americans are getting fewer cavities than ever before. But as reported in a recent story in The New York Times, there is one segment of the population that isn’t doing so well when it comes to their teeth: preschoolers.

Cavity rates are on the rise for kids between the ages of 2 and 5, with just over 28 percent of them experiencing tooth decay. That means that nearly one in three toddlers has at least one cavity, which can cause mouth pain, gum disease and other health problems.

And like many medical conditions, if action isn’t taken early, tooth decay in toddlers can lead to life-long problems.

“Cavities at a young age is the single biggest risk factor for a lifetime of cavities,” says Man Wai Ng, DDS, MPH, dentist-in-chief at the Department of Dentistry at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Over the years, that can force the child to deal with pain, expensive dental work and more serious medical concerns like diabetes and heart problems.”  

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