Category: Food and Health

Can Dental X-Rays Be Harmful?
Can Dental X-Rays Be Harmful?

As a parent, there is a natural concern or even objection to your child having x-rays on their teeth. Can’t radiation be extremely harmful to children? Is it even necessary?

All dental experts agree: No to the first question, yes to the second. The first objection is perhaps the most common, and the most obvious concern. Children get their first tooth often before their first birthday. Isn’t it extremely harmful to expose an infant to radiation?

Here are the facts. In comparison to other ways bones and other internal organs are examined, x-rays are the most comfortable and fastest way to examine anything inside the body – and most importantly, identify a particular issue if there is one.

The whole process to capture the x-ray is only a few seconds and cannot be felt at all. Dental experts agree that there can be far more damage in the avoidance of x-rays. This is because they can detect issues and potential issues regular dental instruments can not, and can allow the dentist to identify cavities, view emerging adult or wisdom teeth, catch early decay, and even small fractures in the case of an injury.

Without the use of x-rays, the detection, prevention, and resolution of these issues would be nearly non-existent – and ultimately, more detrimental – costing you more money and your child more pain in the long-run. Cavities and decay especially can occur between teeth or in places not visible by a regular probe. In the case of a damaged root or a tooth that is positioned improperly under the surface of the gums, this is impossible to identify and treat without x-rays.

If this quick and painless process has any discomfort whatsoever, it’s the measures taken to ensure your child is positioned properly for the brief moment is takes to capture the x-rays. The dentist or pediatric dentist will most likely explain to your child that they are going to take a picture of their teeth and in order to capture this they have to sit very, very still. This way, the child is not frightened and is more inclined to move as little as possible for the few seconds the machine is obtaining the images.

These examinations only take place usually once a year (every other semi-annual appointment) which means the amount of x-rays passing through are incredibly spread out. Not only that, your child will wear a weighted lead vest during this process to protect the rest of their body. Truly, however, the vest is very strictly precautionary.

If you have any further concerns about x-rays, do not hesitate to talk to your child’s dentist at their next appointment. Chances are they will reassure you that x-rays are risk-free and necessary to monitor a growing smile closely and effectively.

What to Do In Case of a Toothache
What to Do In Case of a Toothache

Tooth pain can be some of the most brutal pain you can experience, given that the mouth is such a sensitive area. More than that, we use our mouths for almost everything. Talking, eating, breathing, expressing ourselves – toothaches can really set you back!

When your child experiences what seems to be severe tooth pain, there are steps you can take before they’re able to see a dentist.

The first thing to do would be to identify the tooth or the area where your child’s mouth is hurting. Many times the cause of pain (especially for growing kids) is the sensation of a new tooth growing in or food that has become lodged in the gums. For this, gently try to wiggle it out with dental floss.

On the other hand, if a nerve is exposed, any and all activity, even just breathing (air getting to the nerve) can be excruciating. So if it appears that it is due to an exposed nerve and it is during business hours, call our office right away. The pain will be constant and almost unbearable.

If your child is able to handle the pain, it is recommended you wait 12 hours after before seeing a dentist. This is because often the pain can subside after awhile or can resolve itself. Chances are, if the pain persists that long, it will require professional attention and is a sign there is something wrong. 

If an urgent matter occurs outside business hours, use our app (link below) to send an emergency photo. This will be sent to the Kidds Place right away, even if we are not open. This is a really incredible feature most dental offices do not have!

If an adult tooth becomes dislodged or gets knocked out, time is of the essence. Pick the tooth up (not by the root end!) and examine it for cracks. If it has none, try to re-insert the tooth back into its socket and try to get into a dental office straightaway. If the tooth does not stay in the socket, take it to the dentist in a cup of the patient’s saliva or milk – yes, milk! This will keep the tooth preserved better but only for a short time.

There is an old wives tale that says placing a crushed aspirin on the toothache can cure it – this is NOT dentist recommended! It is better to administer the aspirin or another pain reliever into your child’s system the recommended amount (depending on age).

In short, here are the steps to take when first a toothache arrives:

  • Do your best to clean the affected area and to floss out any debris, if there is any
  • Rinsing with warm water can also be soothing to swollen gums.
  • Gargle warm salt water every hour – this will not only soothe, but disinfect.
  • Do not eat or drink anything very hot or very cold – instead try putting a hot pack on the outside of the affected area.
  • Avoid sweets or junk food.

We know toothaches aren’t fun – so call us when you have an issue or use our app when your child is in pain. We’re here for you!

Download our app:

What’s the Big Deal About Primary Teeth?
What’s the Big Deal About Primary Teeth?

Here at the Kidds Place, we know that newborns and infants have an enormous amount of needs – the phrase “high maintenance” doesn’t even begin to cover it! It’s no wonder oral health can easily be sidelined during these times; to make way for other health and dietary needs that seem more pressing. It could quite possibly be due to the fact that we typically associate dental care with people who, well – actually have teeth!

You may have heard of dentistry for children, or have read about the importance of children having several visits with a pediatric dentist before all adult teeth erupt and all baby teeth are lost.

In fact, most experts say that all children should see a dentist before their first birthday, or around the time their first tooth erupts – whichever comes sooner. But why?

Here are some parents many questions may be asking themselves –

“Does my one-year-old baby really need to see a dentist? Aren’t pediatric dentists kind of expensive, even with insurance?”
“Why would my child need to see a dentist if they haven’t even started eating solids yet?”
“How bad is it if my child gets a cavity in their baby tooth, if they’re just going to lose the tooth anyway?”
“How much brushing is really necessary, especially if my child only has a couple of teeth?”

Let’s address these plausible objections. First of all, the Kidds Place accepts many forms of insurance and we are delighted to work with families and discuss prices for the types of care your child(ren) may need and the services we provide. Honestly, treatment from a pediatric dentist is going to be better for your child in the long run especially in terms of their experience. They are more likely to feel safe and welcomed at our offices, and our employees are trained to help acclimate our young patients that may be scared or unsure.

Much of what dentistry for children accomplishes is preventative care. This means not just bi-annual cleanings, but teaching proper hygiene and catching decay early, if there is any. When there is decay in baby teeth, there is a chance that the adult teeth that replace it can have issues as well. Oral health and the functions in rest of the body are directly correlated.

For infants especially, it is highly possible for childhood caries to emerge; also known as Baby Bottle Syndrome. This more or less is a cavity caused by habitually leaving a bottle in a child’s mouth for too long or the repeat use of a pacifier dipped in a sugary substance like juice. Oftentimes when a child falls asleep with a bottle in their mouth repeatedly (and they already have one or more teeth), plaque from sugar in juice or formula can begin to accumulate on the teeth. Baby Bottle syndrome commonly affects the front top teeth, as this is where the bottle or pacifier sits.

Even when a child is first born, wiping in the inside of their mouths gently with a clean washcloth can help eliminate bacteria. As soon as the first tooth erupts, start brushing that tooth with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste that is safe for infants. Practice doing this daily until the child is able to do it themselves.
The mouth is full of germs, and from the time teeth are present and onward, decay can occur. If decay occurs and goes untreated, this can result in pain and infection. When one or several baby teeth are rotten, this can affect the growth of the adult tooth indefinitely, even if it is removed early. This is because the 

spaces created by baby teeth create a sort of pathway for adult teeth to grow into. Primary teeth merely act as a placeholder for adult teeth, and are of course necessary for speaking, eating, and smiling. When baby teeth are removed prematurely, adult teeth of course will still grow in, but oftentimes they are not as straight and it can sometimes be a longer and painful process than usual.

If your child has teeth and has not yet seen a dentist, don’t panic! We’re here to help. The first appointment is mostly to educate parents and to inform them of their child’s development and needs. Preventative dental care is very important and can help eliminate so many problems down the line that have the potential to be not just painful for your child, but also expensive and time-consuming. Give us a call and we would be thrilled to help you and your family begin healthy, long-lasting smiles for your kids!

Is Your Child Nervous to Go Back to School?
Is Your Child Nervous to Go Back to School?

Jitters. Anxiousness. Butterflies.

Whatever you or your child calls it, going back to school after a long summer can be scary. Being in a season where kids are not around their peers 25-30 hours a week and then having to go back can seem daunting, especially when they’ll have a new teacher, new curriculum, and possibly brand new peers as well.

Most of worries children experience are totally unrelated to ours. Kids have their own stress; their own ways they feel unprepared or inadequate – whether that be in academics, the social structures amongst students, or even just learning how to balance a schedule again.

Your child may not fit into this category – some relish the back-to-school shopping, new notebooks and pencils. Others can seem indifferent. But many children can appear frightened or even resistant to the first week of September. This does not necessarily mean that they will struggle as a student – in fact, many of the ones that are anxious are actually that way because they have a desire to perform well but are worried they will fall short.

“What if I don’t know the answer when a teacher calls on me?”
“Who will I sit next to?”
“What if I get lost and can’t find my classroom?”

Whatever the woes may be, here are some ideas on how to prepare your child for school and ease their anxiety.

Consistency

Kids may not know how to articulate this, but structure, consistency, and predictability are huge during child development. Not knowing what to expect at school or having way too much variety can detract from a child’s learning and peace of mind because they are constantly working to adapt.

That’s why it’s a good idea to start implementing small elements of structure and consistency into the regular everyday before school starts. This could look like, but isn’t limited to:

– Eating breakfast every day (even if it is not at the same time)
– Going to bed around the same time (notice we say “around” – it is more difficult in the summer for sure!)
– Setting an alarm clock in the morning a few minutes earlier every day until it is back up to school time
– Having (or helping!) your child pick out their clothes every night before bed so they know what they’ll wear the next day 

Talking it Out

Encourage your child to talk through their fears and mention specifically what might be bothering them. Tell them it’s normal to have concerns and it’s okay to be scared. Sometimes they may not want to admit this in front of other people, so maybe seeking a private place to have these discussions might help your child open up if they are having difficulty doing so.

Make Plans and To-Do Lists

When your child voices their fears, it is easy for adults who have been there to say, “You’ll be fine!” or “There’s absolutely nothing to worry about!” Validating your child’s concerns is very important, not only because it shows you care but that you can relate to some degree. Ask questions for clarification and to show you’re listening.

Then, help them come up with ideas of a game plan for any specific hypothetical predicament that worries them. This can stand as an excellent teachable moment both in critical thinking and problem-solving.

For example, if one issue is about finding the bus, practice walking to the bus stop together or finding out what number the bus will be.

If one of their fears is about forgetting their lunch in the before school, create a morning checklist of things they must do before leaving the house.

These ideas and more can help your child feel more prepared for school and every aspect it entails. For more information or more ideas in helping your child, go to www.anxietybc.com

The True Cost of Not Flossing
The True Cost of Not Flossing

“How young is too young to start flossing?”

“How long can I go without flossing?”

“How long has it been since I last flossed?”

“How can I trust my child to floss regularly without them hacking into their gums?”

The truth is, whether your child is under a year or in their preteens, dental health and questions about oral care can often sit on the back burner. These are questions you may not find yourself asking because physical health and mental growth can seem so much more pressing.

What most of us do not realize is that our dental health actually has a significant impact on our overall health. A truly healthy body does not coexist with a mouth that is decayed and infected.

So what’s the big deal about flossing?

Regardless of age, flossing is incredibly important because it cleans areas of your teeth a traditional toothbrush does not. The crevices between our teeth can store the most bacteria out of anywhere else in our mouth and can cause gum sensitivity and infection. In fact, the Academy of General Dentistry says that flossing is the most important weapon against plaque.

Did you know that if you never floss, you’re only cleaning two thirds of your teeth? Imagine going months or even years only cleaning certain parts of your body. Everybody would really start to notice after a while!

You (or your kids) may retort: “I don’t have time to floss every single day.” That’s okay! While once daily is of course a good idea, dentists everywhere would agree that flossing as little as twice a week is better than not doing it at all.

Toddlers especially do not need to worry about flossing until their teeth begin to touch. When this happens, teach them how to hold the floss (between both hands, wrapped around their pointer and middle finger), and go in between the teeth gently. Once there, be sure to go over the edges of the teeth where it arches into the gums. You may have to do this until your child has developed the strength in their hands to do it on their own.

– To prevent bleeding, be sure to floss regularly and not cram floss through the teeth quickly, especially if it tends to get stuck. If waxed floss seems too thick, instead use dental tape. It is smoother and thinner.

– Unwaxed floss is rougher and will squeak when the tooth is cleaned. It may be more challenging for kids.

– Pre-measured, disposable flossers are great for a once-over but do not work well for people with bridgework.  

– Waterpicks are not an alternative to flossing as they simply loosen debris (which is why they are excellent for individuals with braces, dentures, and those recovering from wisdom teeth removal). 

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a condition that develops when gums do not have proper exposure to a proper cleaning. If you or your child flosses rarely or not at all, gums will become sensitive, bleed, and can even develop infections. While gingivitis is fairly common and can be cured very easily (flossing more), if action is not taken, eventually it can spiral into periodontitis, or gum disease; which is the root of many heart and lung conditions that can actually be fatal. It may take years of neglect to get to this point, it is still something to be aware of — and it says a LOT of how important cleaning in those hard-to-reach places can actually be!

Receive a Pound of Fruit for FREE!
Receive a Pound of Fruit for FREE!

Come one, come all! Beck’s Harvest is teaming up with The Kidds Place, Dentistry for Children to improve smiles!

Did you know that tooth decay is the most common childhood disease? When kids learn to choose healthy sweet treats (fruits!) over soda and candy, it gives their mouth a fighting chance. Kids who take good care of their mouth and bodies should be rewarded – these are life-long skills that will ultimately improve their development into adults.

That’s why Beck’s Harvest from Green Bluff is offering a pound of fruit at NO charge to every child that is cavity-free at their next appointment! To schedule your child’s next cleaning, call us at 509-252-4746. Don’t delay!

How Much Fruit and Veggies Do Kids Really Need?
How Much Fruit and Veggies Do Kids Really Need?

Fruits and vegetables some of the most important, yet overlooked food groups in an everyday diet. Both help a child grow up strong and both reduce the chances of disease and illness significantly. They can also strengthen a child’s teeth as well, and many fruits can be a healthy alternative to cavity-causing sweets.

Sadly, most of us know we are not consistently eating the recommended amount of these food groups – that goes for both children and adults. An Australian study found the deficit to be as high as 56-80% in kids.

The commonality is often due to lack of finances (fresh fruit and vegetables can get pricey, depending on where you shop), and their shelf-life is not as long as most other tempting snack food that can be loaded with sugar, carbohydrates, and preservatives. Both of these aspects can be difficult especially with bigger families.

Another hurdle is the possibility of placing this many servings in front of your children in the first place. Many children tend to be picky eaters, or at least timid about certain foods. Instead of fighting them, television commercials and other marketing ploys are constantly bombarding us to buy the latest fruit juice or packaged veggie snacks, claiming it is the best thing for our children.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with these products (and sometimes they can seem a quick and easy solution), the reality is that nothing is ever going to beat out or replace the healthy benefits of good old-fashioned fruits and vegetables that are not manipulated to taste or seem better. Sometimes, persisting for your child to finish his or her last few celery sticks can make all the difference, and can bring you steps closer to implementing more and more nutrients in their diet.

So what are the recommended servings? Variables include not just age, but gender and how much physical activity each child is getting. Younger children actually don’t need nearly as many as growing preteens.

Little girl choosing tomatoes in a food store or a supermarket

Up until age three, toddlers only need 0.5-1 serving of fruit, and up to just 2.5 servings of veggies. Between ages four to eight, the number goes up to 1.5-4.5 servings of fruits and vegetables, respectively. After age nine, it is 2 servings of fruit and 5 servings of veggies.

If your child is an athlete and is more active, it is wisest to be on the higher end of these averages because they are burning more calories. Statistically, because boys tend to have a slightly faster metabolism than girls, they sometimes require more.

Here are some tips for you and your children to consume more servings of fresh  fruit and vegetables each day:

  • If your child is a juice addict, replace at least one meal a day with water instead. This way, instead of drinking juice they can still get the fruit fix via a handful of blueberries or apple slices.
  • Produce prices getting you down? Save your pennies for the weekly or bi-weekly farmer’s market in your town. Sometimes you can get more for your buck and negotiate a bargain with the seller. It’s also usually fresher and better for you.
  • Keep a bowl of fresh fruit in sight, either on the countertop or kitchen table.
  • Fruit dehydrators are an amazing investment. Making your own fruit leather is not only yummy, it can help save over-ripe fruit from going bad and is cheaper than buying fruit snacks.
  • In the summertime, cool off by blending fresh fruit and freezing it in a mold as a popsicle. Add raw honey if extra sweetness is desired.
  • Have a container of diced fruit in the refrigerator as a go-to snack.
  • Buy a ‘kid-friendly’ paring knife (usually has dull serrated edges and will only cut food, not fingers) and have your child chop veggies for dinner or lunch at least once a week. Not only can it help them develop an interest in cooking, but they are more likely to be more enthusiastic about eating a meal they helped prepare.
  • If you’re at the grocery store and feel like your cart might not have enough fruits and veggies, take a bag of chips or an item that is nonessential and replace it with fruit instead. Think about it – yes, a carton of raspberries can sometimes cost up to 4 dollars. But so can a box of soda cans. These little exchanges can make all the difference.


Source: Healthy Kids NSW

Maintaining Healthy Habits On Summer Vacation
Maintaining Healthy Habits On Summer Vacation

Oh, to be a child in the summertime! It can be sometimes the most fun and carefree time of the year. The hours stretch out into days of leisure playing outside, inside playing games, or visiting friends. No teachers, no homework, no kid responsibilities – save maybe a few chores!

This can affect children a number of ways. Some enjoy it, but others can require more mental stimulation and become bored out of their minds. Gender, age, personality, and region can all play as variables into how a sudden loss of “structure” for three months can manifest.

Nowadays, many children turn to screens. Some may go over to friends’ houses more frequently; or maybe your house will be the one that’s constantly hosting play dates. Either way, lack of structure can be fun and more freeing, but it can also cause kids to slack in taking care of themselves.

When children are in school, they are typically eating at least one balanced meal a day, eating at specific times to fit around school, and going to bed and waking up around the same times. This routine can become so ingrained in their systems that remembering to brush teeth before bed or floss in the morning becomes second nature.

But in the summer time – especially being at friend’s houses, staying up later, and eating at home for most meals of the day, many of these habits easily fly out the window.

CBS News commented on the differences of habits during this time of year, and tested 6,400 children grades 1-12 and found this:

“Kids watched an average of 20 more minutes of television per day over the summer than during the school year and consumed about three more ounces of sugary drinks. Overall, exercise levels remained about the same throughout the year, with barely five more minutes a day of activity during vacation, though high school students were significantly more active in the summer. However, they still didn’t meet standard government recommendations. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says children and teens should get at least 60 minutes a day of physical activity.”
Gaming kids
Ultimately, none of these statistics are innately life-threatening! However, we recognize parents’ frustrations with their children’s reactions to little to no structure. One parent comments:

“At some point, the kids always whine that there’s nothing to do, and honestly, at some point I can’t think of anything more,” she says. “There’s only so many times we can go to the pool or the Y for classes. I’m used to them being at school for six, seven hours a day now — and using that time to do my own work. So when summer comes, there’s suddenly many more hours to fill.”

It’s also worth noting that kids spend significantly less time outside these days. Although it depends on the community you live in, many parents do not feel comfortable with letting their children roam free unsupervised even in “safe” neighborhoods.

“Back in my day, we would just go outside all day and play in the neighborhood from morning to dinnertime,” she says. “We’d play sports, games, occasionally get a ride to the community pool or water park. Go to a park, or just hang out at someone’s house, watching TV or playing Nintendo.”

More couch time can mean more snacking, and unhealthy snacking (especially sweets!) can lead to cavities.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re one of those parents counting down the days until September.


1. Plan Ahead

Obviously don’t feel like you have to go super crazy – but if it is within your time and resources, plan day trips to take your children to explore maybe parts of town or surrounding areas they’ve never seen. Try going to a different park or visiting a relative that lives a little ways outside town that they don’t always see. Simply making plans in advance – even at the most base-level – forces the family to organize other tasks and down time around these events. Even just having one thing scheduled for the day can bring a little bit of structure back.
Three girls playing in park while holding hands
2. Try to Keep Bedtime Regular

We get it – kids stay up later and sleep in when they have no school. It makes perfect sense! This doesn’t have to be chaotic, though. If their bedtime is traditionally 8pm but they like to stay up late, make it 10 instead and enforce the evening routine around it. This means that kids are still brushing their teeth, changing into pj’s, etc, around a specific time, but they aren’t feeling forced to conform to their school sleep schedule. Maintaining the bedtime habits can also save you the trouble of having to re-establish them entirely come Fall.

3. Recognize that Down-Time Is Important

Rest is so crucial for brain development, rejuvenation, and even creativity. While it may seem like defeat when the television is on more frequently, these restful and mindless practices can actually be healthy and beneficial to a growing mind – in moderation, of course. It’s when it becomes too much that it is detrimental. After an hour or so, have your children take a break from screens. The truth is that even if your calendar is empty, limiting screen-time can force your children to come up with ideas of how to spend their time all by themselves. Boredom can be destructive when there are no other options, but when options are open it forces a child to make their own choices of how to spend their time, which is very important! For some ideas on cheap and easy crafts, check out our latest article: http://thekiddsplace.com/five-simple-cheap-kid-friendly-crafts-to-make-this-summer/

Sources:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/kids-unhealthy-behavior-diet-exercise-tv-summer/

http://2machines.com/188407/

Five Simple, Cheap, Kid-Friendly Crafts to Make This Summer
Five Simple, Cheap, Kid-Friendly Crafts to Make This Summer

Being a kid in the summer time can be so fun and carefree! Days at the beach, family vacations, and BBQs, oh my!

No school, usually no extra-curricular activities, and unless your children are older than 15, probably no job responsibilities either.

Summer can be bittersweet for parents; it can be seen as a time of year filled with opportunity, projects, and activities, but also frustration on those down-days because kids of not being in school. It can therefore be easy for the kids to just kick back and do nothing. Or nothing enriching, anyway. 

You then decide (at least with the younger ones) to come up with ideas to keep them occupied – but at the same time, fighting the urge to not just place them in front of screens or assigning a list of chores so you can maybe get a little peace!

Don’t get us wrong; kids growing up learning how to do chores is definitely important, and can really be refined during the summer months. But what are some fun ways to make the days and weeks go by faster? What are some fun things to do as a family that don’t cost a fortune (or involve more screens)?

We’ve assembled a small list of ideas to get the ball rolling. Summer can be fun and cheap, too! It can also bring the family closer together on the days where everyone otherwise would be off doing their own thing.

(*Please note all crafts are taken from various sources and their images belong to the authors)

 DSC_0948

1. Hot Car Crayons

(Image and article via Come Together Kids)

Depending on where you live, there are just some days where it can seem WAY too hot to play outside! When that happens, here is a fun activity where using the heat can work to your advantage!

All you need is Crayola crayons, a silicone mold, a cookie sheet, and a car sitting out in the sun! Click to read more.

2. Make Homemade Ice Cream

(Image and article via Entertain Kids On A Dime) 20140520-222524-80724805

Fun and easy! Maybe you’ve attempted this before, but it’s only a few ingredients and everyone in the family can participate. You will need two large freezer bags, sugar, vanilla, half and half, ice, and able hands. Click to read more.

 

Sandpaper-Printed-Tshirt-cindy-hopper-alphamom3. Sandpaper Shirts

(Image and article via Alpha Mom)

So fun; you can even recycle old shirts you have laying around the house! This one also involves crayons, too. All you need after that is sandpaper and an iron. Click to read more.

 

4. Kool-Aid Play-Dough

(via Rachel Talbott)
(image via Kraft Recipes)Kool-Aid-Play-Dough-11117

Most people would have most of the ingredients used to make this non-toxic and even edible play-dough! All you need is flour, salt water, olive oil, and Kool-aid. Great for young kids to play with; more fun for older kids to make! Click to watch (6:06).

Water Bottle Tornado

(via SpaceBound)
(image via Steve Spangler Science)
tornado_tube_02
All you need is two empty 2-liter bottles – and if you can find it, a tornado tube. The coolest part is that you can get a little creative with this; instead of using just water for the tornado, you can have your child add food coloring or glitter! Click to watch (2:50).

Midnight Snacks: Totally Harmless?
Midnight Snacks: Totally Harmless?

Child obesity is an expanding epidemic. Less than a year ago, the American Heart Association reported that one in three children and teens in the United States are obese. While these statistics can be attributed to a number of different things, many causes of obesity can also directly correlate with dental health as well.

Of course, diet is the primary factor of weight gain, weight control, and overall health. Today in 2017, our understanding of nutrition is better than it ever has been. More and more, individuals are educating themselves about the molecular structure of food and how it affects different areas of our body.

When you eat better, you feel better. When one desires being healthy over looking thin, it can have exponentially better and longer-lasting results; both mentally and physically. Our children are no different. In fact, children need to consume certain fatty foods as a part of their development; and rarely should a focus for a child be to “lose weight” unless there is a significant obesity problem. Most importantly, the eating habits they establish today will set the tone for their adult eating lifestyle as well.

However, it’s not just WHAT you eat; but how much, and when. Recent studies have been uncovering the issues behind nighttime eating, and found that it not only disrupts our eating cycle and cortisol levels (a hormone that regulates metabolism, digestion, and hunger) but can also be directly correlated to cavities and tooth decay.

In order to be clinically considered a nocturnal eater, it means you have to consume a fourth or more of your daily calories after the evening meal. For many, this looks like a large dessert or late dinner after having eating something earlier in the evening (like a small supper), plus, waking up at night to have another snack. A fourth may seem like a lot, but if these foods are higher in calories, it’s not very difficult to do. The reason why this can lead to weight gain is simple: when your body is sleeping, it burns significantly fewer calories than when awake. If you sleep on a fourth of your food instead of using it for energy, it is stored as fat. 

Raiding the fridge and the pantry late at night are actually more common than you think, and can be alarmingly rampant in teenagers, especially those who stay up late regularly playing video games or other activities that can be accompanied by “vegging out” and snacking. If these habits continue past adolescence, the data doesn’t look good. Not only does nighttime snacking disrupt the biological clock, but it can also affect oral health as well.  A Danish study took a collective of adults ages 30-60 that identified as midnight snackers and tested them twice over the course of six years. What they found was that those who ate late at night lost more teeth, despite medical or genetic background – even those who smoked did not alter this factor. Man gamer in headset playing computer game and eating pizza in dark room

What the research suggested was that because we produce less saliva at night, midnight snackers have the disadvantage of not being able to rinse away bits of food in their mouth very well. This can be especially true if one goes to bed immediately after eating and does not take the time to brush their teeth. Chips, candy, and other carbohydrates break down into simple sugars, and after sitting in a dry mouth for several hours can turn to plaque. Plaque can turn to decay if not properly removed.

If your child struggles with hunger late at night, instead of opting for a snack high in carbs and sugar, offer a handful of baby carrots or an apple with peanut butter. If the need to snack persists, try eating dinner a little later or having a healthy snack an hour or so after dinner.  Working together, you both can break the cycle and ease bad habits into healthier ones!

Sources:
https://experiencelife.com/article/the-hidden-causes-of-late-night-snacking/
http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-midnight-snacking-20160704-snap-story.html
http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/basics/nutrition-and-oral-health/article/ada-06-consumer-news-night-eating-tooth-loss-link
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyKids/ChildhoodObesity/Overweight-in-Children_UCM_304054_Article.jsp#.WSh1tCMrKlM