Stories about: Department of Dentistry at Boston Children’s Hospital

Brush up on your children’s dental health

True or false: Because baby teeth fall out early in life, kids don’t need to get serious about dental health until their permanent teeth start coming in.

The answer is FALSE—and that’s exactly the kind of teeth your child could end up with if you don’t take dental health seriously from an early age. Did you know children who develop cavities early in life are at a far greater risk of having cavities in their adult teeth? Cavities can mean a lifetime of mouth pain and expensive dental work, and can even lead to serious medical concerns like diabetes and heart problems.

To ensure that your child grows up to have a healthy, happy smile, the best offense is a good defense. Here are a few ways to promote healthy teeth in young children:

Brush children’s teeth as soon as they come in. Using children’s toothpaste with fluoride, start brushing a child’s budding teeth and gums the moment a tooth comes in. Don’t worry about baby’s mouth being too sensitive—if they’re old enough to grow a tooth, they’re old enough to have it brushed.

Brush your preschoolers’ teeth for them. Just because children are old enough to put toothpaste on a brush and place it in their mouth, doesn’t mean they can scrub well enough to get rid of plaque. Parents should be brushing kids’ teeth for them until they are about 6 years old to make sure that a thorough job is done. Try standing behind the child when you brush, using your free hand to move the lips and cheeks out of the way when needed.

Read Full Story

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.

Read Full Story

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.”  

Read Full Story