National Children’s Dental Health Month

National Children’s Dental Health Month

February may be the shortest month of the year, but it’s an important one. Not only is it the last month of winter and the month when Abraham Lincoln was born — it’s also National Children’s Dental Health Month! While it’s important to focus on your children’s dental health all year long, this month is the perfect occasion to re-group, learn a little more, and enhance your efforts.

This year’s National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM) slogan is “Fluoride in water prevents cavities! Get it from the tap!” We’re pretty excited about this slogan, since the importance of fluoride for strong tooth enamel is often overlooked.

What’s National Children’s Dental Health Month?

A creation of the ADA, or American Dental Association, NCDHM is a way for parents, dentists, other healthcare providers, and even teachers to come together and focus on kids’ oral health. The tradition began back in 1941. Back then, the observation only lasted for two days, but since pediatric dental care is so important, it has been extended and now lasts all month.

How Can You Get Involved As A Parent?

There are plenty of ways to get involved with NCDHM and re-focus on children’s dental health in February. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Offer Your Child More Water

In honor of this year’s slogan, one way to improve your child’s dental health is to make sure they’re drinking plenty of water. Tap water is generally best since it contains fluoride, a mineral that can help build strong, cavity-resistant tooth enamel.

If you are worried about a strange taste or unwanted chemicals in your tap water, just filter it before drinking. Many standard filters for home use do not remove fluoride, but they do remove other unwanted compounds like sulfur. If you’ve primarily been giving your child bottled water to drink, make this the month you change and start offering filtered tap water instead.

Supervise Brushing

If your child is old enough to brush their own teeth, spend some time supervising them this month. As you observe, offer some pointers. For example, if you see them focusing mostly on the top teeth, remind them to spend time on the bottom teeth, too. If they seem to be rushing the brushing process, give them a timer, and show them how to set it for 2 minutes to ensure they’re spending enough time on their teeth.

The more thoroughly they brush, the more plaque they’ll remove, and the lower their risk of cavities will be.

Schedule a Dental Appointment

Most kids should see the dentist twice a year for a checkup and cleaning. As busy as life can be when you have kids, it’s so easy to forget to schedule these appointments! Call your child’s dentist and schedule the year’s checkups right now so you don’t forget.

NCDHM is the perfect occasion to refocus on good pediatric dental practices. This year, make sure you’re offering your child tap water to ensure their fluoride needs are met, supervise brushing, and keep those dental appointments. Happy National Children’s Dental Health Month!

 

3 Ways to Help Your Child Get Over the Fear of the Dentist

3 Ways to Help Your Child Get Over the Fear of the Dentist

Up to 8% of people are so afraid of the dentist they avoid regular dental checkups! Yet, good oral hygiene is important for good overall health.

Oral infections caused by cavities are dangerous. They can lead to potential problems with eating and even learning.

Going to the dentist is an important step in maintaining good health.

Does your child fear the dentist? Here are three ways to help rid your child of the fear of going to the dentist.

1. Begin Early

This can’t be stressed enough! Your child’s first dental visit should be before the age of one year. As soon as you notice signs of teething, make an appointment.

When children attend routine dental visits at a young age, they come to expect regular dental checkups. If your child’s first visit is because of a toothache, he’ll associate the dentist with pain.

Don’t let that happen!

Cleanse your child’s gums in a gentle manner every day using a wet washcloth. As soon as that first tooth comes in, brush with an infant toothbrush. Make a game out of pointing out your child’s mouth and teeth in the mirror.

2. Use a Pediatric Dentist

Pediatric dentists specialize in treating children. They strive to make children comfortable in the dental environment.

From the waiting room to the dentist’s chair, you’ll see a big difference between adult and pediatric dentists.

The more comfortable your child is, the more she’ll like going to the dentist. This is crucial in establishing lifetime good dental health habits.

3. Good Preparation

Schedule a first-time appointment to meet the dentist. At this appointment, the dentist won’t look in your child’s mouth, unless your child is amenable.

You’ll have a chance to ask questions. Your child will see the waiting room and meet the staff.

When it comes time for your child’s first appointment, the dentist will be a familiar person. Something familiar is much less scary!

Always have a positive attitude when talking about the dentist. Don’t tell stories about your own dental fears.

Be mindful of generalizations such as, “It’ll be fine!” If your child ends up needing a cavity treated, it may not feel fine to her. Next time, she may not trust you when it comes to a trip to the dentist.

Tell your child that the dentist will count her teeth and check her smile. Offer only a few details to avoid making your child anxious.

Going to the Dentist is Essential for Good Health

Going to the dentist is an important part of a good health plan. Don’t let your own dental fears keep you from taking your kids to the dentist.

Help your children establish good oral hygiene habits from an early age. Make sure your children understand that dental visits are non-negotiable.

Once dental visits are routine, your child will be comfortable when it’s time for a visit.

Is your child ready for her first dental visit? Make an appointment here.

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.

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.

Chamomile

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

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.

3 Books to Read With Your Kids This Summer

3 Books to Read With Your Kids This Summer

Summer is here, and that means it’s time to start creating a summer reading list.  Reading exercises the brain, helps teach children about the world around them, and encourages a sense of empathy. Plus, reading along with your child — whether that means reading to them or reading the same book and discussing it book-club-style — is a great way for you to bond. To that end, here are three books to consider adding to your summer reading list this year.

Tight

By: Torrey Maldonado

Ideal for ages 10 and up, Tight is a coming of age novella that teaches kids life lessons about friendship and standing firm in their values. The main character, Bryan, finds that his friend, Mike, is becoming involved in risky activities. At first, Bryan follows along, but he soon starts realizing that what he’s doing is dangerous. The reader then follows Bryan as he learns to stand up for himself and be true to his own feelings.

Although Tight has a lot to teach children, it does so in a story-based manner. The inclusion of superhero references and the suspenseful plot will hold your kids’ attention — and your own.

One Third Nerd

By: Gennifer Choldenko

One-Third Nerd is written at an elementary level, but middle school students will enjoy it, too. It’s the perfect addition to a family summer reading list if you have kids of multiple ages. The book tells the story of Liam, a fifth grader who is dealing with quite the conundrum. If the family dog he and his siblings love does not stop peeing in the house, mom and dad are going to find it a new home. In the challenge of finding a way to save their dog, the kids also learn lessons about navigating other life challenges, such as divorcing parents and making new friends.

One-Third Nerd is heartwarming and will probably have you in tears at least once. Reading it as a family will help teach you all that it’s okay to be vulnerable around each other.

Because

By: Mo Willems

Because is ideal for children ages three to six who are just learning to read. However, it’s a good story for older children to hear, too. Consider having your older child read it aloud with the younger child so they both get some practice and bonding time.

Because details a string of events that lead to a child following her dream and becoming a career musician. Because she hears Ludwig’s music, she is inspired to also create beautiful music. Because she works very hard, she eventually earns a job as a composer… and so forth. The story teaches children the idea of cause and effect and shines a light on how events that are seemingly meaningless at the time end up shaping our lives.

As you’re building your summer reading list, be sure to include one or more of these excellent titles. No matter what you read, you and your children will enjoy expanding your minds together.

Does Juice Cause Cavities?

Does Juice Cause Cavities?

Sugary drinks and tooth decay is a hot topic — but there’s an elephant in the room, and it’s name is “juice.” Juice is often seen as a healthy drink because it’s made from fruit. However, giving your kids too much juice actually increases their risk of cavities. Here’s a closer look at the link between juice and tooth decay.

Sugary Drinks and Tooth Decay: Why Juice Is a Poor Choice

To understand how juice causes cavities, you first need to understand a little about the tooth decay process itself. Your mouth is home to millions of oral bacteria. These bacteria eat sugar and release acids, and those acids weaken your tooth enamel, leading to cavities. The more sugar you eat, the more fun those oral bacteria have digesting it, and the more cavities you’ll develop.

Soda is the notorious “sugary drink” that we all know to avoid. But juice contains just as much, if not more, sugar than soda. An 8-ounce glass of cola contains about 22 grams of sugar. A glass of orange juice contains 21 grams of sugar! Oral bacteria don’t care whether the sugar comes from fruit juice or soda; they love it all.

The other reason juice is bad for teeth has to do with its pH. Acidic foods and drinks — those with a low pH — weaken your tooth enamel and increase your risk of cavities. Most juices are acidic, which compounds their cavity-causing effects.

Are Some Juices Better Than Others?

Virtually all fruit juices are acidic and sugary, making them a poor choice for dental health. Green vegetable juices made from spinach and kale can be a better choice since they are lower in sugar.  Watch out, though — some commercially prepared green juices are sweetened with apple or carrot juice, which makes them sugary and a poor choice.

Should You Ever Give Your Child Juice?

All things in moderation! You don’t need to ban juice altogether, but don’t offer it on a daily basis. If you do occasionally give your child juice as a treat, offer it with a meal so your child drinks it all at once, rather than letting the sugar bathe their teeth as they sip all day.

What Are Good Alternatives to Juice?

The best alternative to juice is plain water. When your child sips water throughout the day, it helps rinse food particles off their teeth, reducing the risk of cavities. You can also give your child whole milk; it’s a good source of calcium and vitamin D, two nutrients that promote strong, healthy enamel.

Whole, fresh fruits are also a good alternative to fruit juice — especially crunchy fruits like apples and watermelon. The sugar is less concentrated in whole fruit than in fruit juice, and the fiber in fruit also limits contact between the sugar and the tooth enamel.

When thinking of sugary drinks and tooth decay, don’t forget that juice can be just as bad as soda. Save juice for a special treat, and instead give your child snacks and drinks that promote tooth health, like milk and crunchy fruits.