Doc Wright, Australia's #1 Media Medic. Medical advice for all the family.

Hear Dr Wright daily on Sydney's No 1 Radio Station


Download a list of other radio stations around Australia here.

newer   older
  article topic 

Wed, 22nd July 2015

Fortunately babies are born with no teeth. At least ones that can be seen. Underneath, there are twenty, hidden beneath the gums, ready to sprout forth anywhere from 6-8 months of age. These are called deciduous or milk teeth. The inevitable "tooth fairy" is supposed to bring goodwill in the form of stuff called money during the night when baby is asleep.

In due course, they will come adrift, to be replaced by 32 permanent or second teeth, but when the teething process starts, challenges loom. Breast feeding is the ideal way to set baby up for life - thus no teeth at birth to give mum a break and prevent her from being chewed to pieces. The delicate immune system of the body is pretty fragile in babies, and is still developing. The extra effort of teething throws a major strain on the system, immunity is temporarily downsized, and the harsh environment tries to play havoc. Temperatures often soar. This means a hot flushed baby, often miserable, crying and stressed. This can overheat the brain, and occasionally lead to a temporary convulsion - frightening for a new mum. Also, viruses often climb aboard. This may quickly lead to a mild cough, respiratory infection, tummy upsets and diarrhea.

These are real life issues, and must be managed. What to do? Do not panic, do not become alarmed, for it is all part of growing up. Cool down an overheated body. Simple cool body warmth sponging is a good start. Give some added fluid, water being best. Dab the body with a soft towel. Do not rub vigorously. Simple paracetamol elixir is a good idea. This lessens discomfort and helps reduce fevers. Applying Bonjela gel locally may help. This contains salicylate, a well known pain reliever. An old fashioned remedy was to gently massage the gum with lemon juice! Cuddles, and soothing reassuring mum talk helps. Baby loves snuggling and being caressed. Even tiny ones may be empowered, reassured and made feel good.



There seems no end to the interventions now available to make the face look more beautiful.


Most skin "disorders" are induced by exposure to the sun. The list is never ending. As western culture increasingly demands "perfect skin", there are several billion prospective patients, many ready to pay out thousands of dollars for interventions which make them comply with social demands. Most are temporary and must be redone regularly to retain the original beneficial effect. It has become a mega-industry. In most case there are no government subsidies for what is considered "cosmetic" procedures. However, if it improves self-image and inner feelings, go for it. Please go to a specialist doctor. There are thousands of "regret" stories around.

^back to top


Western society can legally consume caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. However, we ban most other chemicals with a kick, convict and jail offenders. Even though not many years ago nearly everyone took opium in some form (including doctors) and cocaine was part of cola drinks.


Millions are addicted to approved drugs written on prescriptions. Drug taking is a cultural thing, carried out universally. We start the day with a caffeine kick, whilst toilers in South America chew coca leaves for their hit. The elected leaders of society claim to know what's good and bad, and legislate accordingly. Nobody has recently decided to ban alcohol, the western worlds most disastrous addictive drug, but we pat ourselves on the back for cutting down on nicotine, even though consumption in developing countries is rampant, largely from exports from the west.

^back to top


We sometimes hear about "off label" prescribing. What does this mean?


All drugs are officially approved in a country for a certain range of disorders. Prescribing for any condition apart from this list is called "off label". It is usually not carried out by GPs who stick to the prescribed indications. Specialist are more likely to write "off label" stuff, or may be involved in a "clinical trial".

^back to top


Will surgical robots ever take over from doctors?


Robots are already a part of surgery, with three machines active in Australia. The doctor operates at a distance from the patient, working through mechanical arms which the surgeon directs. As machines become smaller, cheaper and even more accurate so will the workload. It is only a matter of time. Today, two are in the private sector, one in a public hospital.

^back to top


A friend has to undergo punch biopsy but does not know what this involves.


Local anesthetic is injected into the skin, allowed to settle, then a fine hollow sharp edge device removes a small fragment of skin which usually includes the lesion. This is placed into preserving fluid and sent for pathological examination. It often provides the diagnosis, and the next step in management. The small hole usually heals within a few days.

^back to top

This health advice is general in nature. You are advised to seek medical attention from your doctor or health care provider for your own specific symptoms and circumstances.



Just Ask Dr James Wright.

Coughs, colds, aches and pains, feeling off colour, painful joints, sweaty and miserable? Whatever your symptom, or illness, Dr James Wright may help you, and answer your questions.

Simply log onto type in your symptom in the space on the left hand column, click topic and up it comes. Simple easy-to-follow information Dr Wright has written over the past several years. Then click contact us if you have a special message.


You can subscribe (no cost) to Dr James Wright's Monthly Health Bulletin by emailing your name and email address to The bulletin contains up-to-date health tips and news for wellbeing. A copy of the current Bulletin may be viewed online here.

Dr James Wright is associated with lovely Vimiera Retirement Village ( in the leafy Sydney (NSW) suburb of Eastwood. It is operated by Mediaid Centre Foundation (, a non-profit Public Benevolent Institution which provides housing for the elderly, as well as providing a large amount of health information.

Waiting to hear from you Dr James Wright.