My three-year-old son has gum disease, caused by infection in the roots of his two top front teeth. His gums have greatly receded over the six months of the infection, despite antibiotics and gels. I can see the roots of the two front teeth. Is there no other more effective treatment than to take out the teeth involved? This is not the result of bad oral hygiene, and he never has sweets or fizzy/sugary drinks.
You are right to be worried. Gums are every bit as important as teeth for a growing child, and if they have receded so far, this should not be taken lightly. There is no harm in asking for an opinion from a dentist specialising in children's gum disorders – they will surely discuss the range of treatments that may be appropriate. You might have to settle for extractions, but it would be best for you to be confident that this is the correct course of action.
I spend most of the day sitting at a desk, and I almost always cross my legs. I've heard that this can lead to varicose veins. Is this true, or just an urban myth?
Forget about the varicose vein myth. You inherit the tendency to varicose veins. They are the result of imperfect valves in the superficial veins in the legs that allow backflow of blood from above. This causes the veins to balloon from the excess blood in them. If you have normal superficial vein valves, then you won't get VVs. Presumably you are crossing your legs for only a short period at a time, and so not obstructing the circulation in them for hours on end. You are not putting your circulation at risk by doing so. You have deep veins that carry blood back to your body from your lower legs, and you are very unlikely to stop the flow in them simply by crossing your legs, either at the ankles or the knees. However, if you do sit with your legs crossed, and your knees and hips flexed for hours at a time, that's a different matter. There is a risk then of reducing the flow in the deep veins, and a small chance that clots can form in them. That's a deep vein thrombosis, and entirely different from varicose veins. By rising from your seat and walking around every half-hour or so, you will avoid that possibility. So don't worry.
• Got a question for Dr Tom Smith?