Category: Child Development

Learning to Brush and Floss With These Fun Activities

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
  • toothpaste
  • small bowl of water
  • Towel
  • 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:

  • Playdough
  • 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.

 

Happy brushing!

Life Lessons Learned from Littles
Life Lessons Learned from Littles

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:

  1. smiling childAlways act with compassion.  The best way to reinforce this lesson is to watch children interact with an injured animal.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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 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.

 

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.

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.

Image result for braces

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.

Extractions: When Are They Necessary?
Extractions: When Are They Necessary?

Tooth pulling or extraction is a common topic of discussion within the dental community. No one wants to voluntarily get a tooth pulled. Teeth were intended by the body to last a lifetime of wear and tear, however there a multiple reasons as to why tooth extraction should be or must be done.

Space is needed!

The mouth is only so big. Your skull determines that. However, the relationship between the size of the mouth, the dental arch and the size of the teeth sometimes do not coexist in harmony. Crowding in the mouth can be caused by any of the aforementioned factors and can lead to many harmful side effects, such as bite alignment, infection, smile aesthetic or just overall discomfort.

There are some instances where space could be made by braces or other teeth correcting techniques, however the time required to complete the job is too drastic and may jeopardize tooth and gum health. Thus pulling the tooth is the wiser and safer option.

Bite Correction

Having a Bite, which is not properly aligned (malocclusion), though seemingly harmless, can actually affect the health of the mouth greatly. If the mouth is too crowded, the upper and lower teeth may not be properly aligned. This is an issue because it can cause irregular wear on particular teeth, jaw discomfort when chewing or frequent biting of the cheeks and tongue. All of which have a negative effect on the overall health of the mouth and teeth.

Profile and Smile

An out of place tooth can negatively affect the profile and smile which has an overall impact on your dental hygiene. If the mouth is overcrowded or there is a tooth with strange alignment or placement, the profile of the teeth will be affected. This tooth can be a danger to the hygiene of the mouth if it is hard to reach when cleaning or very easily traps debris throughout the day.

Though the extraction of teeth is always an undesired procedure, the life-long positive effects of having a mouth with space, a bite with perfect alignment and a healthy profile and smile are well worth it!

Thumb-sucking, Pacifiers, and How They Can Affect Your Child’s Teeth
Thumb-sucking, Pacifiers, and How They Can Affect Your Child’s Teeth

Thumb sucking and pacifiers are probably the bane of any parent’s existence at one time or another. These habits, though incredibly useful to soothe a fussy baby or toddler eventually become a worry for most parents concerned about their child’s dental health. As child of 1-2 years old, these coping skills shouldn’t be worried about too greatly. However, when the ages of 3 or 4 are reached and the habit is still in full swing, some harm may be done to development of the child’s teeth, jaw and mouth. The sucking motion eventually narrows the upper jaw due to pressure being applied to the sides and soft palate often resulting in the need for braces or can potentially cause speech problems.

Parents are always wondering what are some tricks to help stop a child who sucks his thumb or takes a pacifier so here are a couple tips and tricks for both:

Thumb sucking:

  1. Try to limit the time your child is sucking their thumb to only bedtime or naptime. This helps give them the day time hours where they will eventually learn thumb sucking is only for bedtime.
  2. Help your child understand that when they’re ready to stop sucking their thumb, you will be there to support them. This can really help empower a child to stop the habit.
  3. Come up with creative methods to help the child understand that they are growing every day and eventually won’t need to suck their thumb anymore.

 

Pacifier use:

  1. Taking the pacifier away earlier is always better. If you notice that your baby is not actively sucking on their pacifier or needing it too much as night, feel free to just take it away. Limiting their access will avoid difficult to break habit forming later on.
  2. Going cold turkey can also be an option. Many parents designate a special day, such as a birthday or vacation, where they tell the child before hand that they won’t have the pacifier after that. Don’t steal it away without any thought, but help the child understand the scenario then stick to your plan.
  3. Inventing a “binky fairy” or someone the pacifier needs to be given to is another excellent way. It can give your child a fun experience if they’re giving it away in exchange for a dollar, Christmas gifts or even to a new baby. It also helps explain where the pacifier went and why. When they may ask about it later on, they will remember the story or event and won’t feel surprised or confused.

All of these different methods have been used by countless parents countless times. Weaning your child off of a habit such as thumb sucking or a pacifier can be a lengthy process or a short one. Every child is different. Some methods will work for one and completely not work for another. Just pick a plan as the parents, discuss it with the child and then stick to the plan so no one gets caught off guard or confused.