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Health & wellness

Be Well

Can dental anesthesia stop growth of wisdom teeth?

Many teens and young adults have surgery to remove impacted wisdom teeth, but a study from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine hints at a possible way to prevent wisdom teeth from growing in the first place.

The researchers looked at dental records of children between ages 2 and 6 who received dental treatment requiring local anesthesia in the lower jaw and who also had a dental X-ray taken at least three years after their treatment. They compared their images to those of children who had not received anesthesia.

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Developing wisdom teeth, called buds, were missing from 8 percent of 63 possible bud sites in children who received anesthesia, compared with 2 percent of 376 possible sites in children who did not get injections.

The findings suggest that a shot of anesthesia into the gums might have stopped the development of lower wisdom teeth. The researchers hypothesized the needle or the anesthetic solution may have injured the tooth bud.

BOTTOM LINE: A shot of anesthesia into the gums of young children might have stopped the development of some lower wisdom teeth.

CAUTIONS: The study looked at a small group of patients at one dental clinic, and does not prove the injections prevented the growth of wisdom teeth.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Journal of the American Dental Association, April 1

Group-based incentives led obese to lose more pounds

Employees who are offered cash rewards for weight loss may drop more pounds if they compete on a team rather than on their own, a University of Pennsylvania study suggests.

Researchers enrolled 105 obese employees from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia into either of two different weight-loss-incentive programs, or none at all. The first program paid workers $100 per month for each month they met their weight-loss goal. In the second program, a team of five employees shared $500 per month for each month any one member of the group reached his or her goal. However, those in the group who did not achieve their personal goal had to give up their share of the money to the other team members.

After six months, employees enrolled in the group incentive program lost an average of seven pounds more than those working alone, and about 10 pounds more than those not enrolled in a cash incentive program. The chance that members within the group could receive more money if others did not meet their individual target may have motivated some to work harder, the researchers wrote.

BOTTOM LINE: Employees who are offered cash rewards for weight loss may drop more pounds if they compete on a team rather than on their own.

CAUTIONS: The study was small and too short to assess whether the employees maintained their weight loss and whether programs with financial incentives have long-term benefits.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Annals of Internal Medicine, April 2

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