The scientific tooth fairies of San Francisco

CIFAR Fellow Thomas Boyce tells what teeth can reveal about a child’s upbringing, February 15 at the AAAS Meeting


Credit: © CIFAR

In the early 2000s, researchers in California started competing with the tooth fairy, offering first-grade children $10 if they gave their baby teeth to science. Why would dentists and doctors set up shop as high-paying tooth fairies? They wanted to investigate the link between cavities and low socio-economic status.

W. Thomas Boyce, co-director of the CIFAR program in Child & Brain Development and professor emeritus in the UCSF department of Pediatrics, will tell the tale of his time as California’s tooth fairy and set the stage for a discussion of teeth as biomarkers in human health.

The study that resulted, first published in 2010, showed that kids from lower socio-economic backgrounds had higher levels of cortisol in their saliva and more cavity-causing bacteria around their gums. This was just one part of Boyce’s quest to understand why some children struggle and how all can thrive, which is the subject of his new book: The Orchid and the Dandelion.

Friday 15 February, 1:30pm-2:00pm, Marriott Wardman Park – Virginia Suite

Thomas W. Boyce – Social Disparities in Child Oral Health: Interactions between Stress and Pathogens

Part of Teeth as a Biomarker for Environmental Stress and Risk of Disease session 1:30pm-3:00pm

For more information and interview availability, contact
Jon Farrow: [email protected]


About CIFAR:
CIFAR is a Canadian-based, global charitable organization that convenes extraordinary minds to address science and humanity’s most important questions.

Media Contact
Jon Farrow
[email protected]