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The Kidds Place
506 East Hastings Rd. Suite B
Spokane WA 99218

8 things to do to protect your teeth … young or old
8 things to do to protect your teeth … young or old

8 things to do to protect your teeth … young or old

1. Avoid drinking soda pop as part of your daily routine.

2. Visit your dentist at least twice a year for a cleaning to help prevent cavities and detect them early.

3. Avoid having a dry mouth and remedy it with water (not soda, milk, or sports drinks!).  Some causes of dry mouth are dehydration, dry climate, and prescription medications.

4. Go to your dentist if you have a problem with your teeth.  This includes pain and chipping.

5. Get enough fluoride in your mouth.  Consider taking fluoride supplements, especially if you don’t live in an area where the water is fluoridated.  Note:  if you have TOO MUCH fluoride in your diet, then your teeth will develop yellow spots.

6. Keep your tongue healthy. When you brush your teeth, brush your tongue to get rid of bacteria.

7. Don’t brush your teeth with a hard-bristled brush. Hard bristles can open up the root surfaces through gum recession and can wear down the tooth enamel.  Medium or soft is the way to go!

8. Don’t use commercially available whitening products before talking to your dentist.

Mommy – My throat hurts!
Mommy – My throat hurts!

Mommy – My throat hurts!

When you hear this statement, as a parent, you should ask yourself some questions.

  • How long has my child been complaining of a sore throat?
  • When was the last time that she complained of a sore throat (ie, is this happening often)?
  • Is he having difficulty breathing?
  • What about swallowing?
  • Does she seem to be having a hard time opening her mouth?
  • Are there also complaints about joint pain?
  • Do one or both of his ears hurt?
  • Does she have a rash anywhere on her body?
  • Does she have a prolonged fever over 101F?
  • Is his voice hoarse? How long has it been like that?
  • Does he have any lumps in his neck?

Sore throats are part of life.

The most common cause of a simple sore throat? Viral infection. The solution:  Time.  Sore throats can be present with a cold or the flu, so, naturally, sore throats are more common in the winter months when upper respiratory infections are more common. Sometimes, sore throats are the result of a bacterial infection and these often require antibiotics in order to be properly resolved.  Allergies and environmental conditions can also cause sore throats.

Kids have sore throats more often than teens or adults and that is normal.

Sore throats can be an indicator of something more serious, which is where your parental detective skills come in.  Ask yourself the questions at the top of this post … if many of these questions are answered in a positive manner, then you need to call the pediatrician.

Always contact your doctor if your child has a sore throat that is not associated with a virus (ie, begins to resolve within five to seven days), is not due to allergies, or is not caused by environmental conditions.

When in doubt, check it out.

Enamel Love
Enamel Love

Each one of your teeth is covered by a hard, protective layer called the enamel.  The enamel is what protects the tooth from decay.  It acts as a shield.  Just like a metal shield, when acids come in contact with the enamel, they can erode it and make it soft.  If the shield experiences acid exposure repeatedly, then it deteriorates to a point where it is useless and unreparable.  If you tooth enamel erodes and is corroded, it can never, ever be restored naturally.

You might ask, “Why does this matter to me?”

When the tooth enamel is eroded away, your chance of getting cavities increases.

You might wonder, “If acid is the bad guy, then what foods are acidic?”

So many … too many to list … but, here are some of the most commonly consumed acidic foods:

  • Soft drinks, Cola, Lemon-Lime, Orange, Root beer, ALL OF THEM!
  • Sports drinks
  • Coffee
  • Beef
  • Fish
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Pasta
  • White flour
  • Salt
  • White bread.

Sadly, even repeated, throughout the day exposure to fruits and vegetables can slowly erode your teeth due to acid exposure.

“Can it possibly get worse?” you ask

Possibly the worst news?  Possibly the worst news is that even if you avoid all acidic foods, the bacteria that lives in your mouth feeds on sugars.  When the bacteria feed on sugars, they multiply.  When they multiply, the byproduct is acid.   So, no matter what, your teeth are exposed to acid.

Surely, you’re wondering, “What CAN I do?”

Great news!  You can indeed do something to minimize the acid attack on your tooth enamel.  You can eat acid-balancing foods, such as nuts.  They’re nutritious and will help you show Enamel Love.  Bonus, you’ll gain protein intake at the same time.  Note, the softer the nut, the higher the fat content.  Also, take a look at the graphic associated with this post.  Ginger, onion, pineapple, cheese, celery and apples.  These foods are great at promoting tooth health overall.

And now you’re thinking, “How do I show even more Enamel Love?”

Love your enamel…

  • Avoid eating continuously.
  • Rinse your mouth with water immediately after eating.
  • Floss your teeth during the day.
  • Chew sugar free gum throughout the day, especially after eating.
  • Brush right after you eat.
  • Only drink water during the night! (see next point)
  • Consider running a humidifier next to your bed at night if you live in a dry climate.  This will help you reduce the feeling of dry mouth overnight.
You’ve got this!  Simple, healthy choices are good for your overall health and directly affect your teeth.
Baby, baby, please brush your teeth….
Baby, baby, please brush your teeth….

During these sleepless nights and long days of caring for your adorable baby, it’s sometimes hard to remember that this cute little bundle will all-to-soon grow into an adult. We don’t think too much about it, but consider how much your baby’s jaw and teeth and gums change between birth and adulthood! We start with a mouth full of gums and begin sprouting teeth within a few months. A few years later, we lose those teeth, only to be replaced by a brand new set … not to mention how drastically our jaws change during these formative years. The growth is astounding. Our bodies are indeed miraculous.

Our job as parents is to do our best to insure that disease and traumatic accidents don’t interrupt the growth of our baby, including the teeth and jaw. Of course, accidents are called accidents for a reason and, no matter how healthy of a lifestyle we provide for our little ones, sometimes disease sneaks into our lives. But, those things aside, here are some steps you CAN take now to help your baby off to a life of stellar oral hygiene and dental health:

NO SUGAR!

Don’t give your baby sugars. It’s bad for health overall and especially for oral health. The bacteria in our bodies love sugar. And, as you know from other posts on this blog, when the bacteria in the mouth multiply, a byproduct is acid. The acid erodes tooth enamel and that is followed by decay (cavities). No sugary snacks. No sugary drinks, in general. Especially be diligent to never, ever give *anything* (breastmilk, formula, juice, etc.) in a bottle immediately before or during sleep.

Minimize the opportunity for accidents at home

If only we could protect them from all the harms of this world … but we can’t.  You can, however, childproof your home. Here’s an interesting oral health statistic for you:  at least 50% of all accidents to teeth in children under 7 years old are due to children falling on home furniture.  No, you don’t need to get rid of all of your furniture, but do pay attention to sharp edges and hard surfaces.  The seat of a dining room chair is the “perfect” height for a small child to fall into and damage teeth.  Consider making the main play area away from furniture.  Once your child begins to play sports, invest in a mouthguard (ok, so it’s not really childproofing your home … but it’s still a good tip!)

Don’t wait to start oral hygiene

Give your baby a gift and practice oral hygiene now, no matter how small he or she is.  If oral hygiene is just a normal part of life, your babies will grow up naturally taking care of their gums, teeth, and tongue and will get the payoff of a beautiful smile.  Even before there are visible teeth, you can clean your baby’s gums with a clean, wet cloth after each feeding (brush after eating).  Once there are some teeth, begin using a tiny, very soft brush after each meal.  Don’t use more than the equivalent of a grain of rice of toothpaste.

Visit the Dentist as birthday gift

Turning 1 year old is an important milestone.  Mark it by taking your baby to his first dental appointment! Again, this sets up a habit of taking care of teeth and it also provides the opportunity for the dentist to detect problems early.

Baby, baby, please brush your teeth

You may think that we already addressed this topic in the “Don’t wait to start oral hygiene” section, but you’re wrong.  This encouragement is for YOU!  You strive to be a good example for your children.  Let that intention extend into involving them in your own oral hygiene from day one.  Take your baby into the bathroom with you when you brush your teeth.  Make a point of brushing after meals … and take your baby along, always explaining about the importance of cleaning your teeth after eating.  Make a game of it – Smile in the mirror with your baby, have fun and enjoy these precious months!

Don’t be afraid…
Don’t be afraid…

Oral health. It’s important. Going to the dentist for preventative and maintenance care is a key factor in ensuring that your child has great oral health. Maybe you, yourself, fear going to the dentist. Or, maybe your best friend has told you stories about how her child fears going to the dentist and what an ordeal it is to get her teeth cleaned.

What can you do to decrease your child’s fears and anxieties about going to the dentist?

  • Do NOT tell them that it is scary. Instead, exude a sense of excitement about how cool it is to go to the dentist.
  • Start taking your child to the dentist early. If you child grows up going to the dentist regularly, then she is less likely to equate this activity as something to fear or be anxious about.  Instead, you can set out your semi-annual visits as a special “date” and a fun event that happens regularly.
  • Before you go to the dentist, educate your child about what to expect. Sure, going to the dentist can seem like a trip to a foreign country with all of the peculiar goings-on in the office.  Let your child know what to expect.  You can also read books about going to the dentist, watch videos on the internet (make sure to preview first!), and make-believe “Going to the Dentist.”
  • Give them the experience as an observer. Part of educating your child is to lead by example.  Schedule a dental appointment for yourself prior to when your child’s appointment will be and take your child with you.  Now, if you are one of the approximately 15% of adults who fear going to the dentist, you will have to exercise your best self-control and make use of your best acting abilities to exude excitement and calm about going!
  • Take the time to find a good pediatric dentist. Especially for small children, these offices are an excellent choice because they will often use smaller instruments, give better treasure chest rewards after the appointment, and provide a child friendly environment.
  • During the exam, stay with your child and remain calm and positive and curious. This behavior will calm and reassure your child.
  • Finally, remind your child that this is something that everyone does (or should do) and that it will help them to be healthy and strong.

It’s true, going to the dentist can be stressful, especially when there are procedures to be completed.  But with encouragement and a positive attitude, your child can and will enjoy this part of their healthcare.

 

How to Care for your Child’s Toothbrush (and your own!)
How to Care for your Child’s Toothbrush (and your own!)

Today’s blog is short and sweet, but oh-so-important.

Oral hygiene is of paramount importance. Brushing twice a day, flossing, going to the dentist.

But so often, we neglect that crucial component of oral hygiene:  The Toothbrush.

To care properly for your child’s toothbrush:

  • Ensure that it is THOROUGHLY RINSED after each use. Also, encourage your child to shake off the excess water and allow the toothbrush to fully dry between uses.  These practices reduce the growth of bacteria on the brush.
  • STORE the toothbrush in an UPRIGHT position and without touching another brush. Doing this avoids spreading germs and encourage complete drying.
  • Use mouthwash to SANITIZE your child’s toothbrush overnight (or dip it into boiling water for a few seconds) WHEN YOUR CHILD IS ILL.
  • This may seem like a silly recommendation, but its worth mentioning: DON’T SHARE toothbrushes.
  • REPLACE the toothbrush no more than every 3 months. If the bristles are fraying, it’s time.

Brushing is much more effective in helping your child’s teeth to be healthy when the toothbrush is “healthy,” too.

TV’s Influence On Kids Eating Habits
TV’s Influence On Kids Eating Habits

Watching television can have a negative impact on your child’s overall eating habits. On average, children living in America spend six (6) hours or more watching movies, TV programs with commercials, and/or playing video games. Documented studies have shown, that the more time spent in front of a television, the more body weight increases (this is true for children, as well as adults).  This may be the result of a combination of being sedentary in front of a screen, and also not paying attention to what is being consumed.

Commercials are made to sway the viewer, in order to desire the product that is being advertised. Every day children may see up to 20 advertisements (more than 30 minutes), that promote a tempting food or drink.  Food and beverage advertising account for more than 50% of commercials seen during a child’s television program. Children, between the ages of 8 and 12, can view up to 8,000 food-related ads each year.  In fact, on a yearly basis, the food and drink industry will spend over 1.2 billion dollars on marketing food and beverages, to children younger than 12 years of age.

Many foods advertised are not a healthy choice for growing bodies and minds, as many contain large amounts of sugar, fat, and calories, while lacking in much needed fiber, vitamins, and minerals.  In fact, many food and drink advertisements shown on television, that target children, do not meet nutrition recommendations.

Is it possible to fight against those advertising and to promote healthy eating habits?  YES!

  1. Do not watch TV or use other electronic devices during mealtimes or while consuming snacks. Eating together on a regular basis, without distractions, such as television or cell phones, will offer the opportunity to bond as a family, and also promote healthy eating habits.
  2. When watching programs, choose to edit out commercials by pre-recording a program or renting child appropriate videos. Choosing to watch a public television station is also another great option, in order to limit tempting advertisements.
  3. Spend quality time together learning about food and nutrition. For instance, start growing a garden together, visit the local farmer’s market, or have a discussion in the produce section of your food store. Read nutritional fact labels, and use this time to educate your children on what foods are good for their body and mind.
  4. Open up the kitchen to children’s curious minds. Children love to help and learn. This is a great opportunity to teach about kitchen and food safety.  Assign young children simple tasks, such as setting the table or preparing a salad.
  5. Set limits on screen time. It is recommended, that children, between the ages of 2 to 5 years old, should spend only one hour a day watching TV or playing video games.
  6. Children learn from observing their parents; therefore, be a good role model. Choose healthy foods and drinks, limit your own time watching TV, and spend less time on the computer for non-work-related activities.
Dental emergencies
Dental emergencies

Once upon a time, my adorable 4-year-old son was being a big boy and helping his daddy change the tires on our truck.  He was so proud of himself, being with his dad and doing hard work.  So proud that he decided that he was certainly strong enough to pick up one of those big ol’ tires all by his little ol’ self.  He knelt down, shimmied his hands under the tire, took a deep breath and lifted that side of the tire up with a giant grin on his face, “Look Daddy!” he shouted just before losing his grip and dropping the tire

…which hit the ground hard

…and bounced up into the air, smashing squarely into those adorable top baby teeth.

All of them. They were jammed up into the gums.

This certainly seemed like a dental emergency to me.  Despite all of our efforts to protect his teeth – regular brushing, trying to get regular flossing in, wearing a mouth guard when he played ice hockey (yes, at 4-years-old, he was already an avid ice hockey player!), and going to the dentist twice a year.

But was it an emergency?

Dental emergencies are typically due to injury. This was definitely an injury.  Emergencies typically involve a tooth being knocked out, cracked, or chipped.  His teeth were all intact.  *Really* intact – as in jammed up into the gums!  The other categories of emergency are extreme pain or an object that is jammed between teeth.  It was hard to tell if he was in pain or not because he was scared.

As parents, we felt that this incident qualified as an emergency.  And then it hit us:  We had no idea what to do in the case of a dental emergency!  Through trial and error and talking with the dentist, we learned how to respond correctly.  I hope that you never have to deal with an injury to your child’s teeth. But, if you do (and you probably will because kids will be kids), here is a plan for response to a dental injury:

  1. Stay calm!
  2. Stop the bleeding quickly. Mouths bleed A LOT and your job as the responsible adult it to get that bleeding stopped as quickly as possible.  Use gauze or a clean cloth and apply gentle, but firm pressure to the wound.  As the bleeding slows, you will be able to assess the injury better.  Sometimes, a cut in the lip seems like it’s going to be a serious injury, but as the bleeding is staunched, you can see that it’s nothing that a little ice and a few snuggles won’t cure.
  3. Check the wound. If you find a cracked or chipped tooth, you’ll need to get to the dentist as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
  4. (if applicable) Find the tooth! If your child has knocked out a tooth, find it and then call the dentist.  Dentists can actually put baby teeth back in (who would have thought that was possible?!?) and your dentist may want to do this.  The other reason to find the tooth is that it will enable the dentist o assess whether or not the entire tooth was knocked out.
  5. Keep the tooth moist. Yes, you read that correctly.  Once you find that precious tooth (especially if it’s an adult tooth), do your best to keep it moist.  If you can, put the tooth back in your child’s mouth in its proper place.  Have your child gently bite down on a piece of gauze or even a tea bag to help keep the tooth in place (and prevent swallowing).  If you can’t put the tooth in his mouth, then put it in a container or milk.
  6. Call the dentist.

My poor little guy’s gums turned an ugly purple color and bled so much when he injured his teeth.  To our amazement, the dentist didn’t tell us to rush to the emergency room or even to get into the office immediately.  He did set up an appointment for the following day and gave us some tips, like giving only cold liquids and children’s Tylenol to help with the pain.

Much to our surprise, when we went to the dentist the next day, he took one look and proclaimed that we had nothing to worry about.  All of the teeth were intact and he informed us that they would slowly move back down to their normal position and that one day, he would lose those baby teeth and they would be replaced by healthy permanent teeth.

I didn’t really believe him. My son’s gums were soooo swollen and discolored.  Howe could it be possible that everything would be fine?  But, in the end, his little body healed itself and today, he has a healthy set of permanent teeth. Well, almost, there’s still one baby tooth hanging on in there, but I’m sure it’ll come out in due time.

Best advice in the case of a dental injury?  STAY CALM and contact your dentist.

Caries … what in the world is that?
Caries … what in the world is that?

There is a bacterial infection called “caries.”  It causes tooth decay and cavities. It is the most common chronic disease of early childhood.  Upwards of 50% of 5-year-old children have “had” caries (tooth decay). Sure, this is “only” affecting baby teeth, which the child will eventually lose, to be replaced by permanent adult teeth.  But when the teeth are impacted, overall well-being is impacted, including: eating, speaking, learning and playing.  Pain, caused by tooth decay, negatively affects childhood development.  Furthermore, the health of those future permanent teeth can be compromised.

If these bacteria are so common, what can be done about it?  Great news!  Nearly all tooth decay can be prevented.  There are two main factors in preventing tooth decay:

  1. Although there is some controversy over fluoride and its excessive use, it is a proven fact that brushing with fluoride toothpaste is important to oral health and preventing tooth decay.  Brushing twice a day is recommended.
  2. Exposure to sugars brings the greatest risk for tooth decay.  Do not give your child juice, especially at bedtime.  Formula also contains sugars, so if you are formula feeding your little one, you need to be brushing his teeth, as well.  The interaction between sugars and bacteria produces acids that slowly damage tooth enamel.  Tooth enamel is the protective covering of the teeth.

But, wait! There’s more!  You can implement other practices to help reduce your child’s (and your own) risk of tooth decay. Add these tools to your tool box and benefit from great oral health:

  1. Regular checkups. Going to the dentist every six months is worth it.  Cleanings remove buildup on the teeth and also provide the opportunity to catch decay before it progresses.
  2. Drink water. Drinking water rinses the mouth and helps decrease the interaction between your food and drinks and the bacteria that causes tooth decay.  Fluoridated water provides an extra level of protection, as fluoride helps to strengthen the tooth enamel.
  3. Teeth have 5 sides (front, back, side, side, top).  Brushing only reaches 3 of those sides, but adding flossing to your routine ensures that ALL 5 sides of each tooth are cleaned daily.

Remember, there are about a billion microbes in your child’s mouth.  These microbes recycle what we eat and drink.  When the microbes have access to sugars, then they will eventually recycle those sugars into acids.  Acids wear down the tooth enamel and eventually, the tooth is subject to bacterial invasion that causes cavities.

Reducing risk is simple:  brush teeth, reduce intake of sugars, drink water, floss, and go to the dentist regularly.

Best Foods for Kids in the Winter
Best Foods for Kids in the Winter

The days are shorter, temperatures are colder, and energy levels in children can drop during the winter months.  Many people, including children, may overeat during this season, and it is for this reason that it is important to keep vigilant with nutrition needs.  The following foods will help keep children and adults happy and healthy, during cold the weather months.

Clementines are cute little oranges packed with fiber and much needed Vitamin C.  In addition, they also have magnesium, potassium, and calcium, which are important for growing bones and muscles.  Not only are these little gems seedless, but they are easy to peel and fun to eat.  You will get 25 or more in a box (they will disappear faster than you can image), and in addition, each one has only 25 calories.

They are the perfect wintertime snack, and a great addition to any lunchtime meal.  An amazing sweet treat will be segments of a clementine topped with Greek yogurt and a drizzle of caramel sauce.  Another great idea is to add the bright-colored sections of this orange to salad and steamed broccoli, to make these greens more appetizing.

Sweet Potatoes are delicious and packed with fiber, potassium, and Vitamin A.  The sweet mild taste of this great potato means that it will work in a variety of recipes.  For instance, it can be used with macaroni and cheese, and even added to oatmeal or brownie mixes.  As an alternative to frying, they can be sliced into “coins” or long strips and baked with some olive oil.

Salmon is a great food option to beat the winter blues, because it is full of Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been documented to manage feelings of depression.  Making kebabs with vegetables is a fun way to enjoy this delicious and healthy protein.  Also, try your hand at making salmon cakes mixed with corn and rice.  By the way, who says that pot pie needs to be chicken? Try a salmon pot pie.  The entire family will love it.

Winter Squash is naturally sweet, and it doesn’t get the praise it deserves.  Roasted butternut squash is a delicious sweet treat, when topped with maple syrup and cinnamon, and then baked to perfection.  Try it!  The kids will love it.  Spaghetti squash is another underrated food that can be mixed with your favorite pasta sauce.

Cauliflower on the other hand is very popular these days. Cauliflower is delicious all by itself; however, it is very versatile, as it can be “riced” and used in a variety of recipes, such as fried rice. It can be mashed just like potatoes, to be a wonderful side to any meat dish.  It can also be transformed into a pizza crust, and who doesn’t love pizza.  The ideas are endless!  In addition to tasting great and being a versatile vegetable, it is rich in Vitamins A, B, C, and K.  Cauliflower contains potassium, manganese, and magnesium, which are all necessary for growth and development for young bodies and minds.