vidhya nagarajan

Could using a dishwashing machine increase the chances your child will develop allergies? That’s what some provocative new research suggests — but don’t tear out your machine just yet.

The study involved 1,029 Swedish children (ages 7 or 8) and found that those whose parents said they mostly wash the family’s dishes by hand were significantly less likely to develop eczema, and somewhat less likely to develop allergic asthma and hay fever.

Kids, Allergies And A Possible Downside To Squeaky Clean Dishes

Illustration credit: Vidhya Nagarajan for NPR

If the high-pitched whirr of a dentist’s drill as it bores into your molar terrifies you, good news! There could be fewer fillings in your future. A painless way to prevent cavities in adults is gaining traction.

“OK Alice, we are going to put the fluoride varnish on your teeth,” says Marion Manski, director of the Dental Hygiene Program at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. Fluoride varnish is standard practice for children’s teeth, but Manski’s patient, Alice Clash, is 91 years old. Like many older patients, Clash is taking medications that cause dry mouth, which puts her at high risk for cavities.

So Manski takes a skinny brush and a little pot of yellowish liquid and paints the varnish on Clash’s teeth. “We know that saliva helps us wash away bacteria and food in the mouth,” Manski says. “The fluoride varnish will help that.”

No-Drill Dentistry: Fluoride Treatments Can Prevent Cavities In Adults

Illustration: Vidhya Nagarajan for NPR