Category: Food and Health

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

Mommy – My throat hurts!

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

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

Sore throats are part of life.

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

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

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

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

When in doubt, check it out.

Enamel Love
Enamel Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Can it possibly get worse?” you ask

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

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

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

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

Love your enamel…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cool Summer Treats for Healthy Teeth
Cool Summer Treats for Healthy Teeth

Summer is coming and so are hungry children! Growing bodies and healthy teeth are in need of certain nutrients, but there is no need that summer snacks are to be boring or unhealthy.

Keep in mind, that protein-based snacks are a great protector against acid buildup on teeth, which can lead to tooth decay; therefore turkey slices and nuts make a great snack.  Calcium, such as cheese and yogurt, is necessary for growing bodies. It not only keeps tooth enamel healthy, but it also produces saliva, which is beneficial to killing bacteria, that may cause cavities. Fruits and vegetables are also a great snack choice, because of their high vitamin content.

Fruit Kabobs

Fun-shaped fruit on a stick is an ingenious way to get kids to eat fruit. Using a cookie cutter (star or heart shaped, for instance) and a melon is a great way to start your kabob.  Then add some berries and grapes to the stick.

“Ants” or “Snails” On a Log

Some celery sticks is the basis for this treat, then add a thin layer of cream cheese, topped with cherry tomatoes, grapes, blueberries.  Kids love this, and it is something that they can help to create.  To make a “snail” treat, you will need an apple (which is said to be natural toothbrush), peanut butter, a few raisins or mini chips, and whole grain pretzels to complete the treat.

snails on a log

Teddy Bear Toast

This is a fun way to get kids to start their busy summer days with a healthy breakfast, but it also is a wonderful mid-day snack.  The base of this recipe is a piece of whole grain toast, which is full of much needed fiber, as well as many minerals and vitamins required for healthy gums and teeth.  A teddy bear face should not be your limit, expand to a kitten face with strawberry slices for ears, blueberries for eyes, and thin slices of cheese for whiskers, all created on a thin layer of peanut butter on the toast.  What about a duck? Monkey? Or even a fish?  Kids will go bananas over these fun creations that they had a hand in making.

Yogurt Pops

Ice cream has been a traditional summer treat for generations, but they are usually packed with unhealthy sugars. It is not only fun and healthy, but it is also easy to make your own healthy frozen treats.

If you don’t have a freezer pop mold, an ice cube tray can be used also.  Fill the sections with fresh fruit slices, healthy yogurt and freeze.  In just a few hours, you will have a fun, colorful, delicious, cool summer treat that everyone will love.

Drink Options

Avoid sugary drinks, as they not healthy for teeth, and do no hydrate an overheated body or quench thirst.  Instead, make water fun, and the summer drink of choice.  Make it fun and colorful by adding some bright seasonal fruit slices, such as kiwi and strawberries.  Cucumbers and fresh mint leaves, also add a refreshing flavor to water.  Remember, if you do choose to consume a limited amount of sugary drinks during the summer months, use a straw, as this helps to keep the sugar away from your teeth.

 

Soda Pop Facts
Soda Pop Facts

If you survey your local supermarket, you may find a few different types of sodas. The truth is that Coca-Cola (a household name in soda manufacturing) alone has more than 3,500 different types of soft drinks.  It would take you 9 years to try them all.  Japan is known to carry many exotic flavors of soda, including green tea, cucumber, wasabi, yogurt, and cheese.

Soda has a dangerously high amount of sugar, empty calories and no nutritional value.  It has been documented, that consuming two cans a day of soda pop will pack on 2 pounds of unwanted fat a month.

In addition:

Soda suppresses appetite.  This means that children, as well as adults, are less likely to consume the proper nutrients that their body needs.  Soda drinkers will less likely consume the recommended levels of calcium, vitamin A, magnesium, and other important vitamins and nutrients.

Soda weakens growing bones.  Phosphorus, a common ingredient in soda pop, is known to deplete growing bones of much needed calcium.  This means that bones can fracture more often and more easily.

Soda is a dehydrating diuretic, and can hinder the proper function of the delicate digestive system.  The stomach has a fragile acid/alkaline balance, and drinking soda on a regular basis can upset this balance, as a prolonged acidic environment in the stomach can cause inflammation and severe pain.

Tooth decay is directly linked to soda consumption.  Not only does the excessive sugar found in soda contribute to cavities, but the acid in soda will eat way at tooth enamel.  Acid will begin to destroy tooth enamel in a little as 20 minutes.  Many dentists report that teenagers, who habitually drink soda, have no enamel on their front teeth.

Soda is addictive.  According to a Johns Hopkins report, caffeine is one of the most common mood-altering drugs in the entire world.  Consumption of caffeine causes physical dependence.  Many adults are unable to quit consuming caffeine, even if they wanted to, and children may become addicted quicker due to their smaller size.    A 12 ounce can of regular soda holds at least 35 milligrams of caffeine.   Thinking that diet soda is a better choice, because of the caloric reduction, they can expect to consume 56 milligrams of caffeine per can.

Soda consumption can negatively affect the natural balance of the brain’s neurochemistry.  Aspartame, an ingredient found in many diet sodas, is potentially toxic to the brain, and can disrupt the body’s endocrine system.  Citric acid, another ingredient found in sodas, may contain MSG (Monosodium glutamate), which is also said to be toxic to brain function.  These toxins, in high levels, have been linked to learning disorders, behavioral problems, brain tumors, and diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

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.

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!

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.

Dry Mouth: What It Is & How it Can Affect Your Teeth
Dry Mouth: What It Is & How it Can Affect Your Teeth

Dry mouth is an oral condition that is fairly self-explanatory: it is where there is not enough saliva production inside the mouth.

Saliva adds a very important element to virtually every function your mouth needs to do. When a bite of food enters the mouth, alongside chewing with teeth there are enzymes in spit that help begin breaking down food before it even enters the stomach. This aids in not only swallowing properly but digestion as well.

The saliva glands continue producing day and night to help wash away leftover debris between meals. This helps keep teeth clean and is our body’s natural, initial defense against cavities. Build-up from the bacteria in saliva is what causes plaque, which is why we have to brush our teeth manually at least once a day. But if we didn’t have saliva, we would have to brush and wash away debris much more frequently!

Not only is saliva helpful with eating and preserving teeth, but it keeps the mouth well lubricated for speaking, and prevents the tongue and gums from drying out and cracking. It is crucial that the tongue always stays wet – if it doesn’t, taste buds don’t work properly! Yes – we actually could not taste food very well without spit!

Amazingly enough, our body actually produces less saliva when we sleep at night. If you sleep with your mouth open, you might notice that you will drool a little bit at night. But if you’ve ever woken up with cotton mouth, it’s because not only did leftover moisture leave the mouth (drool) but the production of saliva reduces significantly.

There are a couple ways that we can experience temporary dry mouth: dehydration, stress, or sleeping with your mouth open. But when dry mouth persists, it is known as a clinical condition called xerostomia (zehr-ehs-toh-mee-ah), which is much more serious.

Xerostomia is caused primarily by certain medications. There are over 500 prescription and over-the-counter drugs that can affect fluid regulation in the body, such as allergy medicines (antihistamines). It can also be caused by antidepressants, and chemotherapy drugs.

The common misconception is that mostly elderly people get dry mouth, which simply isn’t true. Many individuals who take the above medications are susceptible; and cancer, allergies, and mood disorders can appear at any age.

Radiation treatments to the head and neck (for cancer found in these areas) can also cause permanent damage to the glands. Other diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, cystic fibrosis, and AIDS can also have dry mouth as an added ailment.

If you think you or your child may have dry mouth, here are some steps you can take:

  • If you or your child take a regular medication(s), tell your doctor about the dryness you are experiencing and see if dry mouth is one of the side effects.
  • Take regular sips of fluid. It is imperative that your mouth continually stay moist and wash away food debris throughout the day. Water is always best.
  • Sleep with a humidifier in the room. This can be really soothing, especially if you are prone to sleeping with your mouth open.
  • Don’t smoke. This will definitely aggravate the dryness!
  • Practice good oral hygiene. Remember when we said that if we didn’t have saliva, we’d have to brush more frequently?! That’s because with dry mouth there lacks a natural way for food and bacteria to be consistently flushed out.
  • Don’t forget to see your dentist twice a year. This is just a good practice, whether you have dry mouth or not!