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:
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!)
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!
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.
An age old practice involving your child’s lost teeth which many people like to have fun with is that of the Tooth Fairy Tale. There are many folklore tales and pre-cursing traditions that have been practiced around disposal of children’s baby teeth. Some of these stories are rather dark and treacherous while others use more child-friendly, fantastical imagination. No matter where it came from, The Tooth Fairy remains alive and well in many American homes today.
Whether you participate in the traditions or not, we have construed some creative means to use the imaginary tale for the benefit of your children in their real-life learning about the resource we all need and use; money! Teaching children at a young age the purpose and means of finances will enable them to become fiscally responsible adults. Potentially, yielding less of the learnt-the-hard-way experiences. Partnering with the Tooth Fairy is just one of the ways to start teaching children about money along with other means such as chores, monetary birthday gifts, and sidewalk cash (finders keepers!). It offers a great starting point for younger kids and a fun incentive for them as they grow that can also encourage them in the natural process of losing their baby teeth.
Discovering the tangible currency of coins and paper bills
Our modern world is shifting rapidly to use of plastic currency numbers and online banking, but the value of tangible money is irreplaceable. Children need visuals and sense of touch to stimulate and ingrain what they learn. The best way to teach the value of a dollar, give them a dollar they can see and touch! Similarly, showing them the same value in coins also shows them how finite money is. While swiping a card may feel fun, cash is real. There are studies repeatedly showing that people really do spend more with plastic than with cash. Give your kids a healthy start in their perspective with money by using cash to stash under that pillow. Teach them the value of each coin and how many of those coins amount to equal values of larger coins and bills. Before saving and spending can begin, they first need to understand and know the value of money.
Making their first purchases
Chore allowance or tooth fairy money is typically your child’s first source of income. As they learn about the value of the money they earn, start practicing spending and saving using the toys or household items. This can turn into a fun game too for them by playing “shop” using they money they have. Setting dollar or coin amounts on toys they can afford and can’t can give way to discussion about saving money as well as prioritizing wants and needs. Same goes for the real out-and-about shopping. When they see a toy or food item they would like to have, show them how much money it costs using their coins and dollars, and how much they will have left; or, how much they may yet need. It would be advisable, however, to refrain from letting your child “borrow” from you! Once they have the money and a decision to purchase something, let them do the deal!
Learning to earn
While loosing teeth may not be the true way of “earning” a wage, it does demonstrate a good given for a value amount. Money isn’t given as often as it is earned. Whether you chose to keep the tooth fairy a secret tale, or your children know its you, aloting a small share for their little teeth can be a gateway into learning about the exchange or transaction that happens with money. Get creative and allow them to put more of an earned effort into it by increasing the value of well brushed and flossed teeth. This can give them incentive to work more diligently on their oral health along with working toward something they would like to purchase. In the real world, we work both for incentive and also responsibility!
Budgeting simply means you are telling your money precisely where it will go. As kids start learning from their shed teeth, chores, or monetary gifts, talk to them about allocating funds. Set up a visual system to help them see and keep track of their categories. Savings for bigger purchases, gift giving, and spending are three basic categories to start with. Of course, customize it to your family values. Envelopes, jars, a collection of piggy banks are some options to allow visualization of these funds. Budgeting like this is also a stepping stone into real-deal banking when your child is older with enough earnings for an account and can start learning to use debit cards.
Turning the Piggy Bank to the Real Bank
When is a good time to open a savings account for your kiddo? A full piggy bank (or two!) can be a good indicator. When your child is ready for this step, take them with you to the bank and let them sit in on the action of starting an account. This could also be a great time to ask for a bank tour to give yet another visual aspect of how banking and money works in the adult world they will soon be a part of. Start simple with savings, start small, and teach them the importance of maintaining their account and tracking funds.
The Tooth Fairy may be just a fun tale for some, but she can also become the entryway for your child into learning about money and the management thereof. Perhaps it is time to think about employing her to get a start on introducing your child to the world of currency, offering valuable lessons that will serve them well throughout their life!
If you are a parent, then you know that training children to brush and floss their teeth can present all sorts of challenges! It is no easy task to master for little hands and fingers still fine-tuning motor skills and anxious to move onto the next activity within 30 seconds of starting one. Regardless, it is important for them to begin development of healthy habits that will serve them well throughout their lives. That doesn’t mean it can’t be fun with a few little tweaks to the game!
Children tend to learn visually and audibly as they get to know the world and objects around them. Using an activity to demonstrate how a task is done not only gives them something enjoyable to do, but it can also help them translate the action into personal life skills. Try a fun approach with these little activities which will give kids a visual, hands on skill-building experience.
Scrubbing Activity using… Toys
Materials you will need:
- Dinosaur figurine (or other animal with grooves and crevices)
- Spare toothbrush
- small bowl of water
- Clean surface or tray (place mats work too!)
- Baking soda or play dough
Those tiny little hard-plastic figurines you often find yourself stepping on can prove useful for this activity! By using toothpaste rather than soap, you can keep this activity closely relateable for your kids in regards to their own teeth. Encourage them also to work within a defined space such as on a plate, tray, or place mat which will help refine motor skills.
How to scrub:
The goal here is to follow the same steps with the toy as you would to instruct your kids to brush their teeth.
- Lightly coat the toy with playdough or baking soda paste (if using baking soda, let dry)
- Dip the toothbrush into the water and assist, as needed, with toothpaste application (remember, pea-size dollop!)
- Let the kids scrub away!
- When finished dip the dinosaur into the water to rinse
While they are brushing, discuss why they are cleaning their toys and point out any stubborn bits that need a little extra scrubbing. Encourage them to check that all little crevices are clear before rinsing and drying. Create a positive experience to draw from by even referring to their teeth as little “dinosaurs” (or whatever it is you used for this activity) and ask if they thoroughly scrubbed them clean!
Flossing activity with Play dough
Materials you will need:
- Dental floss
- Megablock or large toddler “Lego” block (Use a regular Lego for older kids)
How to Floss the Dough
- Help or allow your child to put the dough between the bock pegs.
- Show them how to extract and cut the floss. Use the same amount needed for flossing their own teeth
- Demonstrate the proper flossing technique and leave them to it!
As with the brushing activity, discuss the importance of flossing and what happens when plaque (or playdough) is left between the teeth. You can even leave the block out to dry overnight to similarly show your child what happens when plaque remains between the teeth. Not such an easy mess to remove then! Having your child scoop out the play dough from between the pegs is also a great motor skill development activity. This particular activity emphasizes the importance of shaping the floss around the tooth to ensure no little bits of “plaque” are left behind.
Saying “please” and “thank you” are important life lessons we are taught at a young age by our parents, but have you ever considered that children are in the world, because adults have so much to learn also. Adults may believe that because they have lived longer years that they are experts in all of life’s matters. That is not the whole truth, because if we keep our eyes and hearts open, many of the greatest of life’s lessons come from the little ones in our lives. Remember, a teacher learns a lot from their students.
The first thing we need to remember is that life is a process. Today’s failures mean growth for tomorrow. So, don’t quit, embrace failure, learn from your mistakes, and keep trying.
Other lessons we learn from children include, but are certainly no limited to:
- Always act with compassion. The best way to reinforce this lesson is to watch children interact with an injured animal.
- Embrace Uniqueness. Children do not know the concept of judging others or being judged. They live life to the fullest, and walk to the rhythm of their own drum beat. They know what they like and what makes them happy, and they go for it, without fear of embarrassment or judgement. Individuals, who live within the confines of society’s definition of normal, rarely find their true pleasure in life.
- Smile. Smiling is a free and powerful tool, and is also known as, “Mouth Yoga”. Smiling is an instant mood booster, and children know how to use this valuable tool often. Nothing is more delightful than the sound of children laughing.
- Live in Wonderment. As adults, often this lesson becomes clouded and jaded, and we may lose our sense of wonderment. The world is full of wonder, and we can easily learn this lesson from children under 2 years of age, if we learn to view the current world through their eyes.
- Live in the here and now. Many adults look in the past with regretful thoughts, as they plan for the future, but rarely do adults stop and simply enjoy the present. Children live mostly in the present, due to the fact that they do not have many past experiences, and they don’t really have a concept of the future. Perhaps it is for this reason that children are happier than adults. Cherish the current moments of life and always live in the present moment, as this is where you will find the opportunities to have fun, experience beauty, or try something new.
- Think outside the box. Many children use a box to create forts and castles, and immerse themselves into the world of fantasy. As we can see, thinking outside the box (or even using a box) expands our thought process. We can form new ideas and see things from a new perspective.
- Be flexible. Plans change, and being adaptable in a creative manner is a great lesson to be carried far into adulthood. It is okay to have ice cream for dinner, on occasion.
- Keep up in our every changing world. Children instinctively understand this, as they are always learning, and many adults understand this also, as their children can work electronic devices better than they do.
- There is always time for snuggling. No matter how busy your day becomes, children are always ready for hugs and kisses. This is a great lesson for adults to practice on a regular basis.
Love is a language. Love is not defined by one word or one act. It is a language to be understood. Love means one thing to you and another thing to me. Words of affirmation, quality time, acts of kindness, and affection are a few languages of love. Learn to speak the love language of your children and those closest to you, and watch love blossom like a prefect rose.
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!
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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
- A clean finger -moving over the surface of the gums can relieve some of the teething pain.
- A damp washcloth put in the fridge and then offered to your baby to chew on can offer some cool relief.
- Breastfeeding can be a simple and soothing option to help distract your baby and relieve some of the pain.
- There are also certain pain relievers or Tylenol you can ask your doctor to recommend.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
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.