Cooking with Kids: Baking Substitutes
Cooking with Kids: Baking Substitutes

Getting your kids involved in the kitchen is an easy way to expose them to the important life skill of cooking. Fortunately with baking sweets, most kids are more than eager to participate (being able to lick the spatula was always the best part when we were kids, right?).

Baking is always a fun way to have a sweet snack here and there, however much of the ingredients called for in baked goods recipes consist of unhealthy options such as Crisco or butter, bleached four or high amounts of white refined sugar. With the awareness of nutrition on the rise, there are so many healthier options out there to give you alternatives for each ingredient in your recipe to make them just as yummy but healthier at the same time.

  • Flour –

There are a lot of flour substitutes out there such as whole-wheat flour, which gives you more fiber than its bleached form. Nut flours are also very common. They have healthy oils in them and also more fiber.

  • Sugar –

There are so many alternatives for sugar it would be difficult to list them all. Natural honey, maple syrup, agave nectar or coconut sugar are just a couple options you can choose from when searching for a sweetener. These can be just as effective as refined sugar except they don’t have as high of a refined sugar content.

  • Eggs –

Not everyone likes to eat eggs or thinks that they are healthy for you, especially people who are committed to a vegan diet or have high cholesterol. Some excellent egg alternatives are chia seeds or flax-seed meal which still have emulsifying agents like eggs but are from plant sources.

  • Butter –

Butter can typically be substituted with any nut butters or unsaturated oils. Some other good options would be applesauce which has a low calorie content or ripe bananas which can still have the creamy texture of butter but are filled with nutrients and natural sugars.

Coming up with way to make your favorite recipes healthier for yourself and your family can be a fun exercise and is definitely worth it in the end!

Easter Ideas for Healthy Teeth
Easter Ideas for Healthy Teeth

Easter is the biggest holiday of the spring with so many children eager to dive into the fun. However with all the excitement and tradition of Easter, there is the downside of the amount of candy consumed. Easter is definitely a holiday that has morphed into a day of sugar and treats. As a parent, this can be a bit worrisome if you’re concerned for your children’s dental health. There are some good tricks though that can still give your kids fun surprises but cut down on the amount of sugar consumed.

Sugar-free gums which use zylitol or any other alcohol sugar, are excellent alternatives to still give your children something sweet to chew on but without the high sugar content. Alcohol sugars don’t cling to the teeth as regular sugars do and are not loved by the bacteria in the mouth.

Stickers are also always a favorite with kids. Its easy to find stickers with your child’s favorite Disney character or superhero that they will easily love just as much or even more than a piece of hubba bubba.

Trailmix with yummy nuts and some semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips will significantly cut down on the amount of sugar found in a regular amount of m&ms but is still a yummy treat!

Play dough is a super fun alternative as well. I don’t think there is a child out there who doesn’t like play dough! Pick dough in your child’s favorite color and they will be entertained for a much longer time than if you gave them jelly beans.

Baking some treats with half the sugar or alternative ingredients is always a healthier option than anything you would buy at the store. Baking with date sugar, coconut sugar or maple sugar can be some good alternatives that are still sweet but not hard on the teeth like cane sugar!


  • Creating coupons is always a fun way to make Easter baskets more interactive. Having a coupon for a trip to the movies, a local arcade, a theme park or just a fun outing with mom and dad can be a great idea. Kids love going on adventures more than getting piles of sugar to eat.


Mostly all kids love getting and eating candy. As a parent it can be very easy to want to give into these wishes but I think most kids would agree that is given some of these fun Easter basket alternatives, they would choose them any day over a bag of candy!


Not Sure What to Pack Your Kids for Lunch?
Not Sure What to Pack Your Kids for Lunch?

Choosing the best foods to put in your child’s lunch or give them as a snack can often be a challenging task. As a parent you want to choose something they will like but also something that is healthy for their body and their teeth. If a child is regularly eating candy or sugary snacks during the day, that sugar will just sit on their teeth until they brush them in the evening. Here is a list of some snack options that  promote children’s dental health as well!

  1. Oranges, sweet peppers or strawberries all contain the popular nutrient vitamin c. This vitamin is especially helpful in fighting certain types of bacteria in the mouth because they don’t like its acidic nature.
  2. Nuts or foods containing seeds have healthy oils in them which can coat the teeth and act a protective barrier to invading bacteria. Some examples could be peanuts, almonds, whole grain breads or hearty granola bars.
  3. Milk and Dairy products can also be healthy for teeth because they are an excellent source of calcium, which is helpful in keeping kids teeth strong and resilient. Dairy products also increase the acidity of the mouth and thus ward off any acid loving bacteria.
  4. Apples, Carrots or celery can be excellent choices because they mechanically clean the teeth. Their crispness acts as a kind of abrasive surface on the teeth, helping scrape off any plaque or buildup.
  5. Always give water. Children of course love juice and sugar drinks however the less you give these to your children, the better off their dental health will be. Always promote drinking water because it helps rinse the mouth as well as hydrate.

These are just a few ideas to help inspire healthy snacks, which are also healthy for the mouth. Limiting the amount of times your child snacks a day is also very helpful in keeping the sugar loving bacteria to a minimum.  Being a parent is never easy, but promoting and instilling healthy snacking habits in your child will always pay off, especially concerning their dental health.

Soothing Teething Babies
Soothing Teething Babies

Teething or the development of baby teeth is something every child has to go through during their early years of life. It is a process, which normally causes discomfort and restlessness and can therefore be an exhausting period for the child and the parents.

Teething typically begins anywhere from 3 months to one year when the primary teeth are finding their way to the gums surface. The soreness at this time is most often due to the swelling of the gums as the teeth begin to move. This discomfort can leave the child fussy and unsettled. Every baby is going to be different during this time however, here are some remedies, which will hopefully help, ease the process!

  1. A clean finger -moving over the surface of the gums can relieve some of the teething pain.
  2. A damp washcloth put in the fridge and then offered to your baby to chew on can offer some cool relief.
  3. Breastfeeding can be a simple and soothing option to help distract your baby and relieve some of the pain.
  4. There are also certain pain relievers or Tylenol  you can ask your doctor to recommend.
  5. Amber Teething Necklaces-are a trending holistic solution with the belief that the heat from your child’s skin warms the amber beads which then releases oils containing succinic acid which are then absorbed into the blood. Succinic acid is a natural pain-relieving agent.
  6. Mesh Teethers-can also be a good solution by placing frozen fruit inside and giving the baby something cold but yummy to chew on.

These remedies are not a solution to everyone’s teething baby problems. However, hopefully they offer some temporary relief or more sleep filled nights.


Tips for the Kids Who Don’t Like Brushing
Tips for the Kids Who Don’t Like Brushing

Easing into a tooth-brushing routine can often be a difficult process with young children. The magic of being a “big kid who brushes their teeth” doesn’t last for very long, eventually making the repetitive routine of teeth brushing a bit painful.

There are always some tips and tricks however, which can make this adjustment process much simpler!

  • Let your kids practice by letting them brush your teeth. This can be a promising solution because it allows them to feel like you are in this process with them and not just the tooth-brushing dictator.
  • A reward system can also be effective. Add stickers to a calendar or quarters to a jar or maybe a fun game before bed. This helps give the child incentive and makes them feel like they are doing something right by brushing their teeth. (Just don’t make it candy or chocolate on a daily basis, as this is semi-counter intuitive to purpose of brushing teeth!
  • Changing toothpaste can also be effective by adding a new flavor and helping it feel like a new experience. Sometimes even making toothpaste optional at first, can make the initial experience a bit less dramatic.
  • Giving independence. Allowing your child to put on his or her own toothpaste and do a lot of the brushing themselves as well as rinse out their own mouth can help them feel responsible and in control.
  • Brushing to music makes tooth brushing into more of a party or game, which can help break up the monotony of the routine.
  • Use an Analog timer. These timers are a fun visual for children and can help give them a 3D image to watch as well as know how long they need to brush.

Brushing teeth is never an easy task at the beginning, but hopefully these six simple tips help you better negotiate with your reluctant brushers!

What is Fluoride?
What is Fluoride?

Fluoride can be a controversial topic when discussing the dental health of children. There are many different opinions as to whether fluoride is actually helpful in preventing tooth decay or if it has any dangerous health implications. The facts surrounding what fluoride is, where it can be found and its multiple uses may help decipher whether fluoride is a good choice for you and your children.

Fluoride is a monatomic, inorganic anion from the element of Fluorine (F).  An anion is a negatively charged ion, which is attracted to positively charged substances. Fluoride can be found in multiple different mineral sources on earth but is mostly found in trace quantities within water. It has a slightly bitter taste and no color.

Due to the fact that fluoride is an anion it sticks very firmly to the calcium ions found within the enamel of a tooth. Tooth enamel is comprised of calcium and phosphate and can be easily broken down by the sugar-loving bacteria found within the mouth. These bacteria produce acid as their bi-product, which decays the tooth. Saliva acts as a natural repair device for the enamel in the mouth by neutralizing these acids. However, the amount of acid decay often can be too much for the saliva to properly neutralize, this leads to cavities and decay in the mouth.  Fluoride is a helpful agent in this case because it sticks tightly to the teeth, reinforcing the enamel and protecting the teeth from bacteria and acids.

Normal doses of fluoride can occasionally leave white marks on the teeth. In extreme doses, discoloration can take place in brown or yellow coloring. There are certain studies which state fluorine in high doses can be toxic to the body, mostly the bones (skeletal fluorosis). However, many of the negative effects of fluoride are still open for discussion and study.

As with most substances, moderation is key. Fluoride certainly falls into this category.  Kids should not use a toothpaste with fluoride in it until they are at least 2 years of age. After that, only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush is enough to get the job done!

New Years Resolutions for the Whole Family
New Years Resolutions for the Whole Family

There’s no question – The New year’s resolutions we set for ourselves can be overdone, cliche, and downright unrealistic.

Whether it’s gym membership you’re fairly confident you’ll never use, the instrument you got for Christmas you’re determined to master by March (that acoustic guitar should NOT be for collecting dust in the corner, but let’s be real, at least it looks cool) – in no time our once well-intended goals can eventually lead us to feel discouraged, frustrated, and sometimes even with buyer’s remorse (we’re looking at you, $100 dress we said we’d fit into by May!)

But there’s a reason we invest time and money in our resolutions. We know somewhere inside our own mentality that if we have some financial or practical incentive to meet our aspirations (other than just sheer willpower), we will be more likely to complete these goals, or at the very least, not regret setting them.

So we’ve compiled a list of ideas that you as a family can make together that are no “down payment”, commitment-free, resentment-free and can be great ways for you all to bond closer together in 2018.

These are more of ideas than set-in-stone goals; giving you and your family the opportunity to try them out and whether or not they should come to be new rituals in the coming year.

So if you try any of these and fail, there’s no guilt. The most important thing, however, is to keep track of the resolutions you have completed. This will make you and your household feel more accomplished.

Family Resolution Idea #1 –

Have a “good things” jar. Keep it in a visible place that doesn’t blend in with everyday clutter but adds to the aesthetic of your home. Keep it by the front door or television so that it is always in sight. Next to it, place a stack of small strips of paper along with a pen or two. Whenever a milestone is reached, small or big, personal or collectively, remind one another to write them down and put it in the jar. Did dad get a promotion? Did Johnny score his first soccer goal? Did Sarah lose a tooth? Was a new cousin or niece or nephew born? Keep track of all the good events, and on December 31st, 2018, open the jar and read about all the amazing things that happened throughout the year.

Family Resolution Idea #2 –

Choose a day this year (sometime in May or June is usually a good time – school is slowing down for the summer) and play hooky from school and work! Go to a movie, out to lunch, and just have some quality time. Sometimes it feels really good to break the monotony of a tedious daily routine and cut loose. If it’s a hit – and we’re confident it will be) – make it a yearly ritual!

Family Resolution Idea #3 –

Start a weekly tradition. Choose an evening that works for everyone’s schedule and have a movie night, a game night,  a craft night or a night out! If you find it hard to keep consistent, keep it on your calendar, and find the “thing” everyone doesn’t have difficulty committing to.

Family Resolution Idea #4 –

As the years go by, we’re becoming more and more dependent and addicted to technology. Make a conscious effort this year to not check devices during mealtimes. If it helps, put a sign up on the refrigerator or in a place that’s visible from the table to act as a reminder. This will force you to have more genuine interaction and will inevitably bring you closer together!

Family Resolution Idea #5 –

Set a goal to visit a place you’ve never been. Whether its a short road trip off the beaten path, or an airplane across the country – go see it! Travel! Depending on if your kids are older or younger you can personalize the trip, and it will give you all a chance to bond and make memories to last a lifetime. Traveling with small children especially is not easy, so sometimes even making a short trip to visit family is well worth it for relatives who do not get to see them very often.

We hope that you adopt one or more of these ideas into your upcoming year, or they at least gave you some inspiration to set some attainable goals. May you draw closer with your spouse and children and grow together as a family unit this year. Cheers to 2018!

Facts About Wisdom Teeth You May Not Know

For most young adults wisdom teeth will eventually become a topic of discussion. Do I have them? Should I have them removed? Have they already grown in? These are some common questions you may ask your dentist when considering what to do with your wisdom teeth. Having a fuller knowledge about what wisdom teeth actually are, why they exist in the human mouth and the risks associated with them will help you understand the whole process much better.

Wisdom teeth are called by that name because they normally begin to show in the human mouth around the ages of 17-25 years old. These years are typically thought to be the “ages of gaining wisdom”. They are said to originally exist in the mouth because humans used to have to eat much harder or grainy foods so they needed to have extra molars in order to grind it down. Today, food is much more processed and so the necessity for wisdom teeth has become less and less.

The main risk is that wisdom teeth are quite large and can easily cause crowding within the mouth. Crowding can lead to multiple complications such as tooth decay or jaw problems. If the mouth is overly crowded, wisdom teeth can become displaced and grow in sideways or only partially emerge from the gums. Partial eruption is dangerous because it makes the tooth difficult to clean and allows debris to be easily trapped around the tooth, which can lead to infection or decay. If the wisdom tooth never erupts at all, it can cause problems below the surface of the gums such as tooth displacement or crowding.

In certain situations the wisdom teeth can grow in straight to become fully functional. These scenarios typically don’t require immediate removal of the teeth however they still need to be watched and monitored closely because complications can occur later on. Fully emerged wisdom teeth are set very far back in the mouth making proper cleaning difficult. This leaves them always at high risk for decay or causing certain gum infections.

Santa Claus Around the World
Santa Claus Around the World

The general concept of Christmas is quite universal. It most often has to do with Santa Claus, gift giving, spending time with family and spreading joy. However, around the globe Santa is called by many different names, has many faces and is accompanied by a multitude of different traditions. Exploring each countries distinct Christmas celebrations can be a fun way to engage with the world and perhaps give you new Christmas Traditions to explore.


Christmas in Germany is a very cozy time of year. The country is known for its numerous Christmas Markets or Christkindlmarkts . Every major city in Germany will have a Christmas Market which is filled with small vendors selling schnitzel, schweinebraten or glüwein (hot wine). They also sell lovely handmade goods from slippers, to woodcarvings, ceramics or hats, scarves and gloves.

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Santa Claus is called the Weinachtsmann and he is responsible for bringing the Christmas presents which typically come on December 24th not the 25th. There is also someone called the Christkindl, which is not the “Christ child” but is more a Christ-like representation who typically comes in the form of a female angel. The Christkindl is a very popular face of Christmas and in some households, it is responsible for the giving of gifts.

The advent calendar is also a very important German tradition.


The nativity is very popular in France around Christmas as most of the French population identify with the Catholic traditions. You can wish a simple Merry Christmas by saying “Joyeux Noël!” and Santa Claus is called ‘Pere Noël”.

Yule logs typically made out of cherry wood are also a popular Christmas tradition and are burned with splashed of red wine to bring out a nice smell. Christmas dinner is normally eaten late on December 24th and presents await from Pere noel on the 25th.


Christmas is a new holiday in Japan and has only begun to be celebrated recently due to the spread of western world traditions. Christmas eve is much more celebrated than Christmas day and is typically thought of as a day for lovers, much like the Valentines tradition. They have taken on eating fried chicken as the preferred Christmas dish followed by  a sponge cake with whipped cream and strawberries. Merry Christmas in Japan is Meri Kurisimasu! Santa is called Santa San or Mister Santa and is typically responsible for the bringing of gifts.


The nativity is also very popular in Brazil around Christmas time. Due to the fact Brazil was ruled by Portugal for many years, the religious practices between the two countries are very much the same.  Going to a midnight mass service on Christmas Eve is very a very common tradition! Children often will leave a sock near the window in hopes that Santa or Papai Noel will find it and exchange the sock for a present.Image result for christmas in brazil

Since it is summer time in Brazil at Christmas time, going to the beach Christmas day is a popular activity. They also have something called the 13th Salary, which comes in December, meaning that everyone makes double the salary that month! This is intended to boost the economy and gift buying for the holidays.

The world is a vast place filled with a myriad of Christmas traditions. Exploring the traditions of countries you have visited, dream of visiting or are just curious about can help give your Christmas’ new perspective and meaning!

What Type of Braces Does Your Child Need?
What Type of Braces Does Your Child Need?

Braces have become a very popular practice in the American dental world. If you were to ask a room full young adults how many of them had had braces, over half would surely raise their hand.  Though braces are very popular, not everyone is aware of the different types, which are available. Most people end up with the traditional or metal braces; however there are four types which dentists can typically offer you.

Traditional or metal braces are the most common. When you think of braces, these are most likely the type you think of, considering 78% of people under the age of 18 are wearing metal braces. Metal braces have come a long way since the earlier years and now consist of smaller square brackets, which are glued to the teeth connected by thin wires, which slowly pull the teeth together.

An alternative to traditional braces would be the Ceramic braces. The ceramic braces closely resemble metal braces in function and style however the metal square brackets are replaced with square ceramic brackets. These brackets are typically the same color as the teeth, leaving them to be less noticeable. Adults who require braces are more likely to favor this option.

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Another option is the Lingual Braces.  Lingual braces are unique because they are attached to the back or inside of the teeth closer to the lingual palate. This style is certainly more discrete, however can have severe downsides when it comes to cleaning. Tightening can also become a longer and more painful process due to their difficult-to-reach placement; though their invisibility from the outside really appeals to many patients who require braces

Lastly, there is the Invisalign. Invisalign was founded in 1997 and has continued to grow in popularity ever since. The invisalign technique consists of 18 to 30 custom mouth-guard-like inserts which cover the entire tooth. These are changed out every two to three weeks. They have to be changed in order to accommodate the new alignment of the teeth. Invisalign is popular because it is completely invisible and allows patients to eat and drink whatever they would like. Though, they are only suitable for adults and teens, not younger children.

Even though traditional metal braces are usually the recommended and most cost effective technique, it is always good to keep your options open and speak with your orthodontist about all the possibilities.