Are the Holidays Stressful for Kids?

Are the Holidays Stressful for Kids?

The holiday season is meant to be the most wonderful time of the year, and it certainly can be. However, for many children (and adults), the holiday season also brings with it some stress. Routines are disrupted as you plan for visitors, stay up late preparing for parties, and get home late from holiday gatherings. How can you thwart this holiday stress and keep this season magical and wonderful for your little ones? Start by following these tips.

Stick With Routines As Much As Possible

As much as your child may complain when you insist they go to bed on time or brush their teeth first thing each morning, kids really thrive with routine. Maintaining their routine throughout the busy holiday season will help prevent stress. Send them to bed on time, even if this means leaving a party a little early or putting off a few planned holiday tasks until tomorrow.

Schedule Family Time

You’re probably busy wrapping presents, cleaning the house in preparation for guests, and so forth. As you rush about, your kids may start to feel a little distanced from you, which can lead to stress. Combat this problem by scheduling some quiet, laidback family activities throughout the holiday season. For example, you could dub Tuesday night “Movie Night” and watch a classic holiday film together. Or you could simply go for a walk around the neighborhood together, taking a complete break from the holiday chaos.

Have Kids Help You With Preparation

Instead of leaving your kids to entertain themselves while you complete your to-do list, invite them to help you. This way, they will feel more involved in the holiday preparation, rather than feeling like it’s something that’s disrupting their lives. Even little kids can help with tasks like putting bows on presents, putting sprinkles on cookies, and decorating the tree. Put on some holiday music, and make these prep tasks part of the fun!

Keep Your Own Stress Levels Under Control

Your children know you better than anyone else, and they can tell when you’re feeling stressed and anxious. By keeping your own stress under control, you can help them feel more settled, too. Keep your own holiday stress levels low by:

  • Saying “no” to parties and activities you really don’t have time to attend
  • Taking a little time out each day to read, take a warm bath, or otherwise care for your own needs
  • Accepting help from friends and family members who offer to help you

Focus on Eating Healthy Foods

Sugary treats abound over the holidays, but eating too many can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes, which make kids cranky. You don’t have to forbid your children from touching holiday treats, but do practice moderation. Let them have one or two pieces of candy or cookies per day, and otherwise, provide plenty of healthy foods to munch on. Cheese and crackers, veggies and dip, and sliced fruit are all perfectly tasty and healthy party fare.

With the tips above, you can combat holiday stress and truly enjoy the holiday season. We wish all the best to you and yours.

6 Tips for Dealing With a Loose Tooth

6 Tips for Dealing With a Loose Tooth

It seems like just yesterday that your baby got their first tooth, and now they are starting to lose their teeth! Before a baby tooth actually falls out, it will typically feel a bit loose for a week or two, sometimes longer. What should you do with that loose tooth, and how can you make your child more comfortable during this phase? Start by following these tips.

1. Don’t Try to Pull the Tooth

Don’t try to pull the tooth out until it is very, very loose and basically falling out on its own. Most children actually wiggle the tooth out with their own tongue at this stage; there’s really no need to pull. Trying to pull the tooth out before it’s really ready to come out can cause pain, bleeding, and damage to the gums.

2. Keep Brushing Around It

Your child may find that brushing around the loose tooth feels a little funny, but it’s important to keep brushing in this area. You’re not worried about the tooth developing cavities at this stage, but it’s still important to remove plaque and bacteria from the tooth in order to prevent gum disease and damage to the other nearby teeth. Just have your child brush very gently, using a soft-bristled brush.

3. Don’t Worry About Bleeding

A little bleeding is normal now and then as the tooth works itself loose. If the gums start bleeding, just have your child rinse their mouth out, either with clear water or saltwater. The bleeding should stop within a few minutes.

4. Use an Ice Pack for Soreness

Some children never experience any soreness when their teeth become loose, and others do complain of some pain. An easy way to dull the pain is to hold an ice pack, wrapped in a towel of course, against the area. You can also have your child suck on a Popsicle to ease pain and inflammation. Just make sure they rinse their mouth out after eating a sugary frozen treat.

5. Reassure Your Child With Stories

Your child may feel a bit nervous and anxious about the idea of losing their first tooth. Reassure them by explaining that this happens to everyone, and that it doesn’t really hurt. Tell them that you lost all of your baby teeth, too. Knowing that you understand what they are going through can make them feel more comfortable and confident.

6. Provide Soft Foods

Some kids will take the gung-ho approach and want to keep eating hard, crunchy foods because it will loosen the tooth faster. Other kids may find chewing a little painful or awkward with a loose tooth. Just make sure you have plenty of soft foods available for your child to eat while their tooth is loose. Soft pasta, fish, smoothies, yogurt, and applesauce are all easy to eat.

Your child’s first loose tooth is an exciting experience for both of you. Follow the tips above, and reach out to your pediatric dentist if you have any additional concerns.

When Should My Kids Start Brushing Their Own Teeth?

When Should My Kids Start Brushing Their Own Teeth?

From the day your child’s first tooth appears, you joyously begin their brushing routine. As they grow older, you want your kids to have an active interest in their oral hygiene, but exactly when should your children start to brush their own teeth?

Age 2: Teach Your Child to Spit

At age two, you should still be brushing your child’s teeth for them. After you brush their teeth, tell your child to spit out the extra toothpaste into the sink. This teaches them not to swallow the toothpaste. After they spit , you can then give them water to wash their mouth out a little more. This first step helps introduce your child to the idea of caring for their own teeth.

Age 3 to 6: Start Having Your Child Brush

Children develop at different paces, and that’s okay. Some children are ready to start brushing their own teeth — with plenty of supervision, of course — at age three. Others are not ready until they are four, five, or six. You’ll have to feel it out and determine when your child is ready. Here are some tips to help ease them into brushing their own teeth.

Let Them Practice

Young kids, even toddlers, might try to grab the toothbrush and brush their baby teeth on their own. It’s good to let them do this sometimes so that they feel like a big kid, but don’t forget to follow up with proper brushing yourself. It’s great that your child is showing an interest in their dental care, but at this age, they can’t brush every which way on their own — and still need their parents to remain in control of the health of their teeth.

Couple Brushing With Shoe-Tying

If your child can tie their own shoes, they’re definitely old enough to be brushing their own teeth. Once your child can figure out the coordination it takes to tie up their laces, they have the mental and physical ability to brush their pearly whites themselves. You can now let them mostly hold the brush and do the brushing on their own. Just supervise and help them as needed.

Age 8: Keep an Eye on Their Brushing

By the age of 8, your child should be confidently brushing their own teeth without the need for any direct help from you. However, you should still check in and remind them to brush their teeth twice per day. Observe their brushing regularly. If they are not spending long enough, you may need to set a timer to ensure they brush for a full two minutes. If they seem to be spending more time on one side than on the other, remind them to split their time equally between their teeth.

The Older They Get, the Better They Brush

Being a part of your child’s dental routine is very important. As they grow, they’ll learn more and more about how to care for their teeth, and that’s why it’s so important that you’re there to keep their oral care in check.

There is no definite time that all kids are able to brush their teeth on their own. It varies from child to child, but you can use these guidelines to determine when your own child is ready. Even after they start brushing on their own, don’t forget to supervise and continue to help with the rest of their dental routine, such as flossing and making sure they visit the dentist for a routine checkup every six months.

What’s the Big Deal About Dental Plaque?

What’s the Big Deal About Dental Plaque?

If your teeth have ever felt fuzzy after a long day or after eating a sugary snack, the substance that you were feeling on the surface of your teeth was plaque. Everyone gets plaque on their teeth, and the mere presence of plaque on your teeth — or your child’s teeth — should not make you feel alarmed. However, plaque does contribute to gum disease, cavity formation, and other dental problems, so it is a big deal.

What Is Plaque?

The American Academy of Periodontology defines plaque as the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. Plaque is a combination of sugar, leftover food particles, saliva, bacteria, and the acidic substances secreted by bacteria. Everyone has some bacteria in their mouth, and so everyone develops some plaque. However, some people develop plaque more quickly than others, either because they have more bacteria in their mouths or their mouth contains more sugar to feed those oral bacteria.

Why Is Plaque a Problem?

Plaque can cause a few different dental problems. The bacteria within the plaque secrete acidic substances when they feed on sugar. This acid can wear away at the tooth enamel, leading to the formation of cavities. The bacteria in plaque can also contribute to gum disease, which is basically an infection of the gums with oral bacteria. In its early stages, gum disease causes the gums to become inflamed and a bit sore. Later on, it can lead to loose and missing teeth.

If you do not remove plaque promptly, it can harden into a substance called tartar. Tartar is nearly impossible to remove on your own via brushing and flossing. It needs to be removed by a dental professional. As long as it remains on your teeth, the bacteria it contains will increase your risk of cavities and gum disease. Tartar also stains the teeth a deep yellow color.

How Can You Remove Plaque From Your Child’s Teeth?

Keeping your child’s teeth free from plaque will help decrease their risk of dental problems. The best way to control plaque is via regular brushing and flossing. If your child is under the age of 6, you should help them brush their teeth to ensure they do a thorough job. Even after they turn 6, make sure you observe their brushing and remind them to brush twice per day. Letting your child choose their own toothbrush and their own flavor of toothpaste can help make brushing more fun!

How Can You Reduce Plaque Formation?

The less sugar your child consumes, the less plaque their teeth will develop. Save candies, soda, and juice as occasional treats, and instead give your child plenty of crunchy fruits and veggies, low-fat dairy, and nuts as snacks. Encourage your child to drink more water, which is not only sugar-free, but also helps rinse bacteria and sugar off the teeth before decay can set in.

If you take steps to reduce plaque formation and to remove plaque from your child’s teeth, they can look forward to great oral health, now and in the future. Don’t hesitate to contact your dentist or dental hygienist if you have any lingering questions about plaque.


Pediatric Dental Health: Halloween Dental Tips

Pediatric Dental Health: Halloween Dental Tips

Halloween is just around the corner! It’s the season for costumes, spooks, and of course… candy. As a parent who is concerned for their child’s dental health, the idea of a holiday centered around sugary candy may make you cringe. But luckily, there are some ways your child can enjoy Halloween traditions without sabotaging their teeth. It’s all about the balance. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

Stay Away From Sticky Candies

When choosing candies for Halloween, try to stay away from caramels, taffy, and other really sticky, chewy candies. These candies tend to cling to the teeth, promoting plaque formation and decay long after your child indulges. Chocolate bars are actually a good choice since your child will chew and swallow them in a relatively short period of time. Powdered candies, such as Pixie Sticks, are also a good choice since they dissolve quickly.

Enjoy Sweet Treats With Meals

Do not simply let your child munch on candy all day, every day until it is gone. This snacking behavior ensures the teeth are covered in sugar all day long, which will allow oral bacteria to grow out of control. Instead, let your child indulge in a couple of pieces of candy each day after mealtime. When your child has recently eaten a meal, their salivary glands are more active, so the sugar is rinsed off the teeth faster. Only allowing candy at mealtime also shortens the duration of sugar exposure.

Serve Healthy Snacks at Parties

There’s so much candy going around this season! If you host a Halloween party for your child and their friends, make a point to offer some healthy snacks to balance out all of those sweets. Apples cut like jack-o-lanterns, spaghetti arranged to look like bloody guts, and banana slices placed on sticks to look like ghosts are all good choices. If your child is invited to a party, offer to provide healthy snacks for all. Your child will probably still eat some candy during the celebration, but at least their diet for the evening won’t be 100-percent sugar!

Limit the Trick-or-Treating

If trick-or-treating is a tradition in your household, consider putting a time limit on it. If you only allow your kids to go out for an hour or two, they won’t have quite as much candy to enjoy in the coming weeks. Plan other fun activities, like a board game night or a scary movie viewing party, so they don’t feel deprived when you tell them they need to be home from trick-or-treating by a certain hour.

Send a Toothbrush to School

Even if you don’t normally send your child to school with a toothbrush, you might want to do so during this candy-eating season. A mid-day brushing can get rid of sugar after your child accepts a treat from a friend on the bus or during first period.

Can Halloween traditions and healthy teeth coexist? Absolutely! Stick to the tips above so your child’s smile stays clean and bright.


5 Teething Jewelry Alternatives

5 Teething Jewelry Alternatives

Teething jewelry has become quite popular lately, but popularity does not equate to safety. The FDA recently released a formal News Release regarding the risks of teething necklaces. In this report, they describe how teething necklaces pose a choking hazard. They also explain how teething necklaces made from materials like amber may release harmful substances that are absorbed into the baby’s bloodstream. There have been several reports of infants suffering serious injuries or death after choking on beads from teething necklaces.

Teething can be miserable, both for babies and for their parents. However, teething necklaces are not a safe solution. The following are some safer ways to keep your baby comfortable during the teething process.

Cool Washcloths: A Safer Teething Jewelry Alternative

Another way to ease your baby’s teething discomfort is to keep a moist washcloth in the freezer. Rub the washcloth over your baby’s gums whenever he or she gets fussy. You can even let your baby chew on the washcloth a little bit. Rotate the cloth out with a fresh one once it starts to warm up.

Mesh Feeders

Many baby stores sell mesh feeders that you can fill with your baby’s favorite foods — such as bananas, apples, and carrots — and place in the freezer. Once they are frozen, you can let your baby chew on them. The food will slowly work its way through the mesh, serving double-duty as a healthy snack and a soothing, cooling aid.


You’ve probably heard of the relaxing, soothing effects of chamomile. It can soothe pain topically, too. If you visit your local pharmacy, you may be able to find chamomile-based teething gels made specifically for babies. Applying a little bit of this teething gel each time your baby seems irritable can help keep teething more manageable.


Popsicles made with real fruit juice can also be soothing to a baby who is teething. You don’t have to let your baby eat the whole Popsicle. Just let him or her bite or suck on it for a few minutes at a time, as needed. Always rinse your baby’s mouth out with water and wipe his or her gums off after feeding a Popsicle and before putting him or her to bed. Putting your baby to sleep with sugary residue on the gums is not good for dental health, even if the teeth have not erupted yet.

Teething Biscuits

You’ll find teething biscuits in the baby food aisle of most grocery stores. These hard biscuits slowly break down as your child chews on them, making them a safe and tasty alternative to teething jewelry. Make sure you choose a low-sugar variety for dental health. Zweiback bread, a European bread, is a good choice.

Use one or more of the methods above for safer pain management during teething. If you run into any trouble or have questions, reach out to your pediatric dentist.