Children who are physically and mentally challenged may not only have difficulty in performing daily routine activities, but may also be unable to efficiently maintain general and dental hygiene. These patients generally require ongoing assistance from a loved one or a caregiver to look after them. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, children with special healthcare needs include those that suffer from any kind of developmental, physical or cognitive disability that requires special arrangements for providing them with medical or dental treatment.
Who Can Treat Handicapped Children?
Seeking dental care for your child with a special need is not an easy task, since not every dental office contains the required arrangements to accommodate handicapped children, and not every dentist has the skill set required to treat a physically or mentally challenged child. Ask your current dentist or seek a pediatric dentist who is qualified and possesses the training to better assist your child with their dental needs.
Dental Problems Faced By Disabled Children
Physically challenged children may have limited motor skills, rendering them unable to perform routine dental care tasks such as tooth brushing, flossing and using a mouthwash. Similarly, mentally challenged individuals may lack the cognitive skills to efficiently take care of their dental needs in absence of a caregiver. Whatever the reason of disability, handicapped children are at an even greater risk than most children, of developing dental caries. In addition, most children are exposed to frequent gingival and periodontal problems as a result of heavy plaque and calculus deposition on the teeth. Soft tissue trauma and infections are very common among children with neuromuscular disabilities.
Behavioral Management of Disabled Children
Typically, children with special needs are highly apprehensive and anxious of the dental treatment. Hence, it is important for the child’s dentists or Pedodontists to be equipped with excellent communication and behavioral skills, and must form a bond with the child so that he or she can trust them with their personal space. You and your dentist shoud be present with your child during dental cleanings and procedures, and they should also be assured that the procedure will be painless and completed within a short term.
Medical Management of Disabled Children
Many disabled children can be at a greater risk of suffering from nutritional deficiencies due to their reduced cognitive skills and neuromuscular coordination, which in turn affects their feeding abilities. Some handicapped children are unable to take their diet through an oral route. Instead they may require a feeding tube or direct gastric feeding, and are at risk for malnourishment. Since there is a direct correlation between malnutrition and incidence of dental infections, your child’s dentist, in consultation with a dietician or a nutritionist, must look out for any signs of poor nutrition, along with the parent, to ensure that this isn’t a contributor to dental problems or any aspect of their health
Dental Management of Disabled Children
Dental procedures for handicapped children are usually performed under conscious sedation or general anesthesia, since they can quickly become restless or may have difficulty keeping their mouth open for an extended period of time. For you as the parent, it is advised to stay with your child in the dental office and give special attention to your child’s teeth at home. Supervise your child during brushing and flossing and ensure that he or she spits the toothpaste out after brushing, and does not swallow it. A toothpaste containing fluoride is beneficial for them in preventing the risk of caries and other dental problems.
A Final Word
Helping your special needs child can be challenging, so ensure that your child’s dentist and healthcare providers are not only aware of your child’s needs, but also of their insecurities and how they may better encourage your child and build trust with them. Do not hesitate to ask your dentist about their experience with treating children of physical and mental disabilities.
Sometimes, the dental treatment of anxious and restless patients, especially children, becomes a challenging job for dentists. Many children are either afraid of the presumed pain they would suffer during administration of the anesthesia, or fearful of the vibrating sounds of various dental rotary machines. In any case, pacification of the child becomes necessary in order for the dentist to perform treatment without hindrance. Traditionally, before the extraction of teeth in children, a local anesthesia is given to them the numb the pain. However, since many children are afraid of getting the “shot” from the anesthesia syringe, they never consent to the treatment. To counter this dilemma, various treatment options have been developed by the dental professionals. Among them, sedation is a highly effective and time tested procedure. The aim of sedation is to reduction anxiety and apprehension so that the patient becomes cooperative during the dental procedure, while keeping the patient’s reflexes and responses intact. Other dentists prefer to use some sort of restraining techniques that work by temporarily limiting the capability of child-patients to move during the dental treatment.
Restraints, Sedation and General Anesthesia: is it really necessary?
Dental procedures become impossible on child-patients that are nervous and fearful of the dentist or even the dental office. Hence it is imperative to have a mechanism in place that either makes the child more compliant, or limits the capability of the child to move. Both sedation and restraints are being commonly used by dentists worldwide. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry approves of partial or complete stabilization of the patients in certain cases, in order to protect the patient and the dental team. Eighty five percent of the dental programs taught safe restraining mechanisms as an acceptable and validated procedure whenever warranted. Similarly, dentist throughout the world are practicing sedation dentistry routinely in their practices, which not only makes the dental treatment more pleasant for the patient, but also significantly reduces the time taken by the dentist to perform the procedure.
In certain extreme cases where restraining and sedation are not effective, general anesthesia can be administered as the last resort. Furthermore, this option can also be opted during excessively long surgical procedures where local anesthesia might not remain effective over prolonged periods. It can be concluded from the above discussion that these treatments should be used without hesitation whenever they are required, provided all the medical and dental precautions are kept in mind.
Are these Treatments Safe For My Child?
Dental procedures under sedation are performed by dental professionals who have acquired proper training in administration of sedation to children. Other dentists have hired full time dental anaesthesiologists who are responsible for the wellbeing of the child during sedation and anesthesia. Similarly, only restraining techniques that have been authorized by the respective dental licensing authority are utilized in the dental surgery. Therefore, these procedures are safe and risk free in trained hands.
Everyone knows that a balanced diet is helpful in ensuring good general health. However, very few people realize that a balanced diet is also responsible for good oral and dental wellbeing. This is because the oral cavity serves as the gateway to the digestive system, and all the ingested food first passes through the oral cavity where it is partially digested. Furthermore, the type of diet we have plays a vital role in determining our dental and general health. Children of all ages are especially at high risk of having carious teeth or developing other medical and dental problems if the parents are not conscious about their dietary intake.
What Not to Eat?
Carbohydrates and Fats
Any diet that is rich in carbohydrates and certain fats should be avoided. Children are especially fond of eating candies and chocolates, all of which contain an excessive amount of processed sugar. Furthermore, bakery products such as breads, pastries, cakes, and pasta, which contain refined carbohydrates, are even more dangerous for the children’s teeth. Research has shown that partial fermentation of the oral cavity starts right from the oral cavity, and as a result the local pH of the mouth is excessively reduced. This acidic environment is highly conducive for the growth and multiplication of caries-causing bacteria, and results in the appearance of widespread carious lesions in the oral cavity (cavities), particularly if the oral hygiene measures are not satisfactory.
Acidic foods and drinks such as lemon, grape and orange juices tend to remove the outer protective layer of the teeth known as the dental enamel, which results in tooth sensitivity every time a hot or cold drink is taken. Similarly, carbonated drinks which have been found to be highly acidic and possess surplus amounts of processed sugars, are detrimental to the integrity of the enamel. Hence, acidic soft drinks and beverages should not be a routine component of our daily diet. When they are consumed, however, the teeth should be brushed promptly.
Deficiency of some minerals such as Zinc, Calcium and phosphate in the daily diet is likely to reduce our body’s resistance to curb infection. Studies have shown that mineral deficiency can enhance to chances of periodontal and gingival infections within the oral cavity.
What to Eat
Dietary milk products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt are a rich reservoir of Calcium and few other essential nutrients. Dietary calcium, is highly beneficial in strengthening and development of bones and teeth. Some dairy products, such as yogurt, contain probiotics which are the good bacteria vital for both oral and digestive health. Look for brands that contain Less sugar, real sugar, and probiotics.
A protein rich diet such as meat, eggs, fish and milk are the best sources of phosphorous, which in conjunction with calcium, forms the building blocks for healthy teeth and bones.
Fruits and Vegetables
Almost all fruits and vegetables contain abundant quantities of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A and Vitamin C, that are essential not only in preventing oral infections, but also enhancing salivary flow which has antibacterial and anti-caries properties. In addition, natural sugars present in fruits and vegetables have been found “less harmful” than artificially sweetened products. The body is also able to process natural sugars found in fruit, opposed to artificial sugar which can be stored as fat.
The “Good Fats”
Omega 3 fatty acids, in contrast to other fatty diet components, are considered a beneficial dietary constituent, and not only improve general health, but also enhance resistance against periodontal. Gingival and other maxillofacial infections. Good fats can be found in milk, eggs, avocados, olive oil, and peanut butter.
A Final Word
A healthy diet is essential for maintaining an excellent physical and dental health. Apart from that, meticulous oral hygiene maintenance through regular tooth brushing and flossing is required to prevent incidence and progression of dental caries.
Before we discuss causes of late teething we must define what is meant by the term. The average infant will bring forth its first tooth between the ages of five months to seven months, and most children will have done so by about thirteen months.
Identifying Late Teething
Usually, all children have started teething by about eighteen months. So what is considered ‘late’? It all depends. The point could be any time after thirteen months, when ‘most children’ are expected to begin teething. This is the time when parents may start thinking of possible reasons for delay. It is important to remember that every child is different. Genetics affect all aspects of human life. Some families will have their teeth later than these ages, and some may even start teething at three months. Others may drool early, but teethe many months later. Teething discomfort varies as well, some children will have teeth erupt without discomfort, while other go through phases of much pain and fussiness.
If both of the parents began teething at the age of around fifteen months, then it would be normal to expect that their baby will teeth around that age, and may be even later. If both parents had been early teethers then we should expect the baby to bring its first pair of teeth rather early, and a ‘delay’ should be noted. Also keep in mind that there will be variation even among siblings. This is because the parents will contribute a different set of genes.
Other than genetics, there are typically two types of causes for ‘delay’ . It could be a nutritional deficiency or a medical condition. Nutritional deficiency will normally be indicated by an under-weight condition, or a weak physique. In such cases, children must be supplemented by formula milk. It is important that children in need of formula get milk rich in vitamins, especially vitamins A, C, and D. Minerals, calcium and phosphorus are also necessary. It is to be noted that nutritional deficiency, in some essentials, may also result if the feeding mother is weak or sick, or is not getting enough nutrition herself. Medical conditions may delay the arrival of teeth. Hypothyroidism is one cause. In such cases, the thyroid gland is not functioning well enough. Hypothyroidism will generally be accompanied by other indications, like slow growth, sluggish responses, lack of physical alertness, weight gain and slower learning of skills like walking and speech. Another medical condition could be weakness due to formula milk being unacceptable to the intestine of the child. It is said that low birth weight and anemia may also cause delayed teething.
If you suspect that your baby is taking too long to cut their first tooth, you should visit the dentist, who can then try to determine whether it is actually delayed, or it is simply natural.
Autism is a developmental disorder that affects one in every one thousand children. This disorder is more likely to affect boys than girls. Symptoms associated with Autism vary greatly and this is why dentists and other health care professionals need to make special considerations when treating children that are autistic. For example:
Many autistic children never develop proper verbal skills and this can make getting to proper diagnosis more challenging. Lack of eye contact is another symptom that will make it difficult for dentists to have the patients’ attention for long periods of time.
Physical contact, especially from strangers, is something that some autistic children will not like. In addition to physical contact, some children are ultra-sensitive to sounds, smells and bright lights, making routine dental visits challenging.
A daily routine is very important for autistic children and a new experience may cause stress and anxiety.
A few tips for parents when preparing a dental visit with your autistic child:
- Unless the office has their own, bring along a portable DVD player so you can play your child’s favorite movie to keep them calm and distracted.
- If you know that your child is sensitive to loud noises and bright lights, bring a pair of earplugs as well as sunglasses for them.
- Speak with the health care professional before the appointment to have a clear understanding of the office procedures. Also, ask any questions that you feel necessary to ensure the comfort of your child.
- Support the dentist/doctor in charge. Be a reassuring figure to your child, but have a passive attitude while the exam is being conducted.
- Be sure to follow the dental hygiene methods that your dentist may suggest.
Important tips for parents when in the dental office:
- Allow your child to tour the office and perhaps touch the equipment to let him or her get familiarized with the office
- They may need to travel with a favorite blanket or toy for comfort, so don’t tell them they can’t hold a particular item that they are fond of
- Give the dentist tips about your child and how they respond best
- Make the first appointment a positive, although short, experience
- avoid crowding your child, approach them in a quiet and friendly manner
- Talk calmly and use short, direct phrases when speaking to an autistic child. (avoid using words that have double meanings because they may be taken literally)
- Allow your child to sit in the exam chair so they can be accustomed to the exam setting and the surrounding environment.
- Explain, in terms that are easily understood, exactly what you are going to do next. Ask the hygienists and dentist to do the same.
- Tell your autistic child why and where you are going to touch them, especially when you are using a medical instrument.
- Use a bright light during the exam only when absolutely necessary.
- Hold your child’s hand as this may increase their comfort level.
- Mild sedation on young autistic children may be necessary to effectively complete the dental treatment.
Thanksgiving recipes are cherished classics in every kitchen, whether it be an old family recipe or the back of a pre-packaged box, we all enjoy this hearty holiday meal. Having these recipes on hand before the big feast is important, after all, good cooking is mostly preparation! If you are looking for some interesting twists on Thanksgiving classics, or simply need a fun recipe for those little mouths at the table these recipes are for you, and they are kid-friendly too!
Thanksgiving morning usually comes early for those of you preparing the Turkey. From the moment you wake up, you begin your preparations and sometimes, you just don’t have time (and oven or stove space) to grab some breakfast! Cereal is quick and easy, but it can get boring and doesn’t provide the nutrition you need to get through your cooking marathon.
Freezer egg bakes
Try out some of these delicious breakfast ideas for your busy morning. These freezer-bite recipes involve some preparation the night before, which will free your time for the most important preparations the morning of Thanksgiving. They are convenient, easy, and healthy for you and your family! Follow this link for three easy, cheesy ideas:
“Gobble” some Pancakes
Who couldn’t enjoy pancakes for breakfast? If this classic breakfast is a staple for the weekends home with your kids, then here is a fun twist!
When you’re busy cooking such a yummy meal, it can be tough to keep your fingers out of it which is why we are providing some great recipes and ideas for snacks to munch on, pre-dinner. Of course, you want to save room for all that turkey and stuffing, but sometimes you just need something to hold you over until then.
Caramel/dulce de leche dip
If you have an extra can of sweetened condensed milk, a staple in Thanksgiving dessert recipes, than you can make one yummy caramel dip, or dulce de leche, if you prefer! If you have never tried this before, you must try it now. See the link for the recipe on this mouth-watering dip.
You can do this a couple days before, or the night before, just give it a few hours (very little work, we promise) its well worth it! Be sure the dip is very cool before opening. Take a few of your kid’s favorite apples (try Honeycrisps), slice them up on a tray, and you have a wonderful apple dip! While you are at it, drizzle over some popcorn for a sweet and salty treat, or spoon it over some yogurt.
For an easy-to-grab snack, try this trail mix! It’s easy to make and easy to take with you around the kitchen (if need be). Mayflower Munch
Cheese/fruit/meat “turkey” platter
Another easy snack would be a party-type tray. Though simple, they can be quite versatile and customizable to any occasion. All you need for this one is some pepperoni and different cheeses of your choice! You could also use fruit and vegetables of your choice. This is a very simple and quick snack when you need to focus on the meal preparation.
This next option is not only creative and festive, but its also easy entirely edible. You could make your own variations with this one and customize it to your child’s favorite finger snacks. Or, if you are one for ice cream year-round, try some fun holiday flavors such as pumpkin or eggnog ice cream with a spoon of the homemade caramel listed above! Check out the “Mini Cornucopias” using waffle ice cream cones at this link:
Thanksgiving is one of the biggest meals you will probably cook through the year and though it’s all so tasteful, sometimes it can get a bit messy for kids, especially stuffing and gravy. Here are some recipes to put a little user-friendly twist on the ordinary recipes.
Whether you’re cooking your stuffing in the turkey, a crock pot, or the stove, this handy tip can prove useful for all the little mouths at the table. All you need is a cupcake pan and you can turn the stuffing into a “muffin” that can be easily held by toddlers and small children. Check out this link for the how to, as well as a simple stuffing recipe from scratch!
Mashed potato puffs
Finger food really is the best for kids, especially when it comes to large feasts and a table full of kids. Whether you need to make it quick with instant potatoes, or you already have a pot of mashed potatoes for those who may not be fond of yams, this is a great variation for messy little eaters and babes learning how to feed themselves. Here it is:
Honey glazed carrots
This sweet dish is full of great nutrients for your little one who may prefer to pass up the yams. Use baby carrots or chop full-size carrots for an easy-to-eat dish. See this link for a delightful recipe:
Thanksgiving is a day of appreciation and spending time with our loved ones, and we want to keep it that way with some quick, easy, and convenient meals and snacks with items you may already have on hand. As you prepare for this year’s festivities, remember to be present in all things and thankful for all things, especially those we love… and great food!
Losing baby teeth
As parents and caretakers, we often experience just as much discomfort as our little ones do when it comes to teething. From long nights of frequent wakings for teething gel, to a freezer full of popsicles to sooth the gum inflammation, we are more than happy to see that last tooth pop through their little gums! But, after all that hard work, those pesky teeth then begin to fall out. Just when you think you have this tooth-sprouting business done with, you hear, “my tooth is loose!” and it’s a whole new game!
Those words represent another big milestone in your child’s life. Baby teeth have to fall out to make way for permanent teeth to grow; this process can last six or more years from start to finish. Most kids are probably excited to feel their loose, wiggly tooth, and some may worry and wonder if it will hurt. Every child is unique and will react in either fashion. Your response should be as unique as theirs: reassuring them that this is a normal, necessary process, and even showing excitement for them.
First things first
Your child’s 20 baby teeth, which typically come in by age 3, usually fall out in the order in which they came in. On average, kids begin losing teeth at age 5 or 6, but some can lose the first tooth as early as 4 or as late as 7. Since the lower center teeth (lower central incisors) are usually the first to erupt, that means they are usually the first to go as well. The top center pair is next. The middle teeth are usually the first to go (at 6 to 7 years), followed by the ones on either side (at 7 to 8 years). The molars can be lost at any time after that, but will likely be gone between 9 and 12 years. Typically, the teeth will not loosen until the permanent tooth begins to push its way through. These permanent teeth have been growing beneath the gums for some time and eventually dissolve the root of the baby tooth in its path, making it loose.
Think of it like this: the younger the child was when the teeth came in, the earlier they fall out.
It is possible, however, for kids to lose a baby tooth too early, before the permanent tooth is ready to erupt, due to an accident or dental disease. Sometimes a pediatric dentist will put a spacer (a custom-fit plastic placeholder) in the place where a baby tooth fell out too soon until the adult tooth is ready, in order to prevent future spacing problems. If your child begins to lose teeth before 4, you should consult a dentist to make sure there’s no underlying disease.
On the contrary, it is also possible for a child to reach 7 or 8 without losing any baby teeth. In such cases, there’s probably nothing wrong, but it’s a good idea to consult a dentist for X-rays to assess the situation. During the preschool years or shortly after the age of 4, prior to losing their baby teeth, your child’s jaw and facial bones grow to create space between the primary teeth for your child’s permanent, adult teeth to come in. In all, your child will have 28 permanent teeth by the age of 12, sometimes later which is also normal. The remaining four “wisdom teeth” arrive between 17 and 25 years of age.
What to do
So your child has approached you declaring that they have a loose tooth. During these years in your child’s life, his grin will slowly start start to transform, but in the meantime, it will be full of permanent teeth and baby teeth alike. What can you do, and what should you do to help your child through such a loss as this?
- Encourage your child to gently wiggle a their loose tooth. Some loose teeth can actually be rotated because the root underneath has almost completely disintegrated.
- Remind your child not to yank a tooth before it’s ready to fall out on its own because it makes the broken root more vulnerable to infection. No tying-a-string-to-a-doorknob tricks, please! A loose tooth that refuses to come out may need to be pulled by a dentist, though this is hardly ever necessary.
- Just allow nature to take its course! It shouldn’t take much effort, and there should be very little bleeding. Focus on making sure your child is brushing well at the gum line; often the tooth will come out easily during regular teeth brushing.
- Losing baby teeth is seldom as painful a process as teething. If your 5- or 6-year-old complains of pain in the back of his mouth, it’s probably the 6-year molars coming in. (He has no baby teeth there to fall out first). A topical painkiller, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen can ease the ache, though it’s unlikely to last long.
- Make it fun! Play the tooth fairy and give your child some quarters for their teeth. Make a pillow or use an envelope to keep them safe!
The new arrivals
The new teeth may look bigger, especially those first few. That’s because they are! Adult teeth also tend to be less white than baby teeth and have pronounced ridges because they haven’t been used yet for biting and chewing. Sometimes, but not often, a couple of new teeth come in before the old ones are gone, creating two rows of pearly whites. This is a temporary stage, sometimes called shark’s teeth. Keep an eye on your child’s progress and if you are concerned, talk to their dentist. Brushing is now more important than ever. You’ll probably need to supervise the process until your child is around 8, and until then he won’t need to use more than a pea-sized dot of toothpaste. Some doctors recommend using toothpaste without fluoride until the child can spit, if tap water contains enough fluoride. Replace toothbrushes every two or three months to reduce harmful bacteria and keep them working at their best. And make sure your child sees a dentist twice a year. As your child wiggles those teeth away, take pictures of all the awkward smiles, and sing, “all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!”
Finding the link
Often, we hear about the mind, body, and soul connection, or the mind-body connection, but have you heard of the mouth and body connection? Most people think their dental visit is about their oral health, and it is for the most part. Your visit, however, is not just about your teeth, its about your overall health. The state of your teeth, gums, and lips offer clues to how the rest of your body is doing. You see, what goes on in the rest of your body can, and usually does affect your teeth. Like the eyes to the soul, your mouth is a window to the health of your body.
Many diseases and illnesses can cause oral problems, and the reverse is also true. The American Heart Association published a statement in April 2012 supporting an association between gum disease and heart disease. Gum disease results in the kind of inflammation that has been shown to contribute to heart disease and diabetes. In recent years, the connection between oral health and overall health has peaked interest in the health community. In one recent study, people with serious gum disease were 40% more likely to have a chronic condition on top of it.That is definitely worth further research.
Understanding the connection
Studies show that the mouth can indeed affect the body, but to understand how, we need to know what can go wrong from the start. When we skip out on brushing our teeth, or even fail to do it properly, bacteria can build up on the teeth. Over time, plaque, the buildup of bacteria, causes an immune response, resulting in gingivitis or inflammation. About 35% of U.S. adults have some form of perionditis or severe inflammation. Another 50% have gingivitis which is the beginning of gum disease; the mildest form of gum disease. Inflammation will continue as long as it goes uncared for. Over time, it causes a chemical release that weakens the enamel and bone structure of your teeth and gums, down to the root. This results in… you guessed it… gum disease and tooth decay. Not only does regular inflammation of the teeth affect your body, but so do oral infections such as cold sores or ulcers, also known as “canker sores.” Weakened immunity can often result in mouth sores which cause much pain and discomfort. Like the snowball effect, once you have mouth sores it becomes painful to brush and bacteria tends to build on the teeth.
One of the most common health conditions in America is Heart Disease. Perhaps more common due to the connection with chronic gum disease and the increase of this oral condition. In heart disease, one theory is that chronic, ongoing gum disease can cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream where they attach to the fatty deposits in the heart blood vessels. Anytime bleeding occurs in the mouth, certain oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream and may settle on abnormal heart valves or tissue weakened by an existing heart problem or heart condition.This can then cause blood clots and may lead to heart attacks.
Though the connection is still not fully understood, it is quite clear that the conditions go hand in hand. Recent studies have shown that over 90% of patients with heart disease have gum disease, while over 60% have gum disease without heart disease. Some suspect that perionditis has a direct role in raising the risk of heart disease, especially since they both have common risk factors such as unhealthy diet, smoking, and excess weight.
Not only are people with diabetes more susceptible to serious gum disease, but serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes. Inflammation that starts in the mouth seems to weaken the body’s ability to control blood sugar. People with diabetes have trouble processing sugar because of a lack of insulin: the hormone that converts sugar into energy. Risk increases for serious gum disease due to the decreased ability to fight bacteria that invade the gums. You could say there is a two-way relationship. High blood sugar provides ideal conditions for infection to grow, including gum infections. This relationship can be used to your favor: managing one can help bring the other under control.
It doesn’t end here
While Heart Disease and Diabetes may seem so extreme a condition to develop from gum inflammation, the list of ailments doesn’t end there. Even pregnancy, though not a ailment, causes changes and susceptibility in the mother’s teeth due to hormone changes. Your body is one big puzzle piece and everything is connected. So why does this information about such serious conditions matter? Because, these conditions don’t develop overnight, they are developed over time and often, it starts with lack of dental care and education about oral hygiene Teach your children now about the importance of oral hygiene and help them develop healthy habits that will serve them well in life and avoid the ailments that can manifest later in their lives. Eating a balanced diet, seeing your dentist regularly, and good oral hygiene helps reduce your risks of tooth decay and gum disease. Make sure you brush twice a day and floss once a day!
Enterovirus and preventing illness in your home
Fall, one of the more radiantly beautiful seasons of the year, is finally upon us again and as parents, we know what that usually means! Back to school, sweaters, and the flu. This year in particular, there has been much concern regarding the Enterovirus in the eastern and central states. Every year, the colder seasons usually come with a cycle of colds and viruses and keeping them away is of every parent’s concern. So what is the Enterovirus and how can you prevent and protect your family from falling sick this fall?
What is Enterovirus?
Enterovirus is a non-polio respiratory virus that can cause mild to severe breathing problems, particularly in children with asthma. The strain that is currently traveling the United States is known as the Enterovirus D68. Symptoms mimic those of a cold: runny nose, sneezing, cough, body aches, and fever. More severe symptoms include wheezing and difficulty breathing; usually in children with a history of respiratory problems. The virus is spread just like the common cold, through sneezing, coughing, and touching a contaminated surface.
The CDC has confirmed that from Mid August through September 16th, 120 people across 13 states have been confirmed to have the illness caused by the Enterovirus. These states include: Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania. Currently, children with respiratory illnesses from different parts of Washington have been admitted to Seattle Children’s hospital for testing to determine the virus or an uncommon strain of cold virus that typically hits in the Fall. There are no confirmed cases of the virus in Washington yet. The virus lasts about one week and most children recover without any lasting symptoms. Children with asthma or any kind of respiratory weakness though, are at higher risk for more serious symptoms. Like most viruses, there are no vaccines to prevent the illness and it must run it’s course. Only temporary relief from symptoms with medicine like cough syrup or pain relievers.
Whether effective cures are discovered or not, prevention is the best cure to any illness out there. Education of proper hygiene is one of the best tool you can give your kids to stay healthy and happy throughout their lives.
The first step in prevention is teaching your children to wash their hands, properly! Though it’s obvious, it cannot be stressed enough. 80% of infectious germs are spread by touch alone! Keeping toddlers from touching infected surfaces and covering coughs is near impossible which is why hand washing is realistic and most effective for younger children. Introduce your child at 1-2 years of age and let them play in the water and get comfortable with it. Pump some soap between their fingers and let them squish it around and play with it, just don’t let them eat it of course. Singing a song or practicing letters and numbers can distract them to lingering longer at the sink, enabling you to make sure they get a good wash.
Washing your toddler’s hands can be tricky, but making it fun is a learned art that will help you equip them with important hygiene skills. Experts suggest washing for at least 20 seconds with warm soapy water and any soap; the regular soap will be just as effective as antibacterial. If a sink and warm water aren’t available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer and have your child rub it around until evaporated, about 20 seconds. Just don’t rely on hand sanitizers for keeping your child’s hands clean, use it only when warm water or soap is not available due to alcohol content.
When should you wash hands? It may seem obvious, but to kids it isn’t so. Encourage them to wash after blowing their nose and sneezing, coughing, touching their face, using the bathroom, and eating. The best method for teaching your child about hand washing is to do it yourself! When they see you wash, children are far more inclined to do it themselves; kids learn by influence. It is equally important for you to wash your hands for a few reasons: taking care of a sick child can also get you sick. Also, taking care of a sick child while you are sick is just miserable. Make hand washing a group activity!
Disinfect your home
When you have a sick child, it may seem inevitable that everyone in the house will get sick, but you can prevent spread by taking a few steps to eliminate germs. Keeping a clean home to prevent illness means keeping surfaces such as counter tops, door handles, and light switches sanitized. Also consider toys, toothbrushes stored in a shared cup, and chairs. Using wipes or a spray solution and paper towels, spray surfaces but allow it to rest for about 20 seconds, then wipe, ensuring that those germs are eliminated.
Besides the obvious surface sanitation, keep towels in both the kitchen and bathroom laundered regularly. Germs can hold in damp towels and cause anyone using them to become sick, especially hand towels used by everyone. Consider using disposable paper towels to prevent reduce germ spread. This sounds like a lot, but don’t make yourself go crazy in attempts to prevent germ spread, just do your best. You can’t follow your kids around disinfecting every little thing, its impossible! You can’t eliminate every germ in the house, but encouraging all members of your home to wash hands regularly will reduce the germ population greatly.
Keep your hands to yourself!
Literally, encourage your kids not to touch other children or food in the kitchen that is not going directly to their mouth. Encourage hand washing after eating and don’t let them share food and drinks with others in the home or with their friends. Oral transmission is another very common way to spread germs, so avoid sharing any food, beverage, or toys and binkys.
For parents, avoid preparing food if you can, and if you must, we cannot emphasize enough to wash your hands! Avoid breathing directly onto food as well. If your kids want a snack, remind them to wash before opening the fridge or prepare a snack for them. If possible, pack lunches for school the next day while you are washed up and preparing dinner the night before, or while preparing breakfast that morning.
Eat a healthy diet
This may seem obvious, but most people don’t get enough hydration or food intake while they are sick because they simply don’t feel up to it. Drinking plenty of water and liquid like tea and juice will help your body “flush” out the bug and heal more quickly. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains and try to avoid dairy since it promotes mucus production. Take in foods with vitamin C and D. Consider taking a supplement even before you ever become sick, especially in the area we live. Studies have shown that people in the Northwest area do not get enough sunlight which is processed as Vitamin D in the body which is necessary for strong immune support.
Ask any parent, or person for that matter, and they would prefer those who are sick to stay home from work or school. While it may be difficult for some families, it is important to think of others in your area of work and play. Think about it, if you didn’t stay home or keep your kids home from school for a day or two, and their playmates or a co worker became sick later down the road, you could become sick again yourself! While viral illnesses usually build an immunity in your body and remain a “one time deal”, bacterial illnesses such as the common cold could be caught multiple times a season. Keeping your kids home and taking a day off from work to rest will also help you to get healthy quicker. Taking time to rest and take care of yourself saves you more trouble than missing a day of work or school and not only getting others sick, but remaining sick yourself due to lack of needed rest to recover.
But Keep in mind…
You can’t know and predict when your child will get sick. While trying to prevent germ spread is a noble goal, it can spread quickly, especially in the home. You can try though! For instance, you could kiss your kids on their heads rather than their cheeks for a few days. You could ask your spouse to read the bedtime stories and baths for a few nights if you are sick. Though taking these precautions could result in becoming sick anyways, you don’t know if doing so could also prevent the rest of your family or even one of you from becoming sick as well! . But obviously, you can’t be so careful in your efforts to prevent germs from spreading that you feel like you’re shunning your kids or initiating a lockdown. So, why not try and while you are at it, use some of these suggestions to be proactive this cold and flu season!
Helpful Tricks for Soothing Sunburns
You spent all day at the beach, you wore sunscreen and maybe reapplied it after a few hours, but you’re still sunburnt! Sunburns happen, even without spending the whole day at the beach! Getting lobstered tends to happen in much less time today than in our grandparents day. Sunburns can be miserable, especially for the little ones who may have never experienced one before. Here are some facts you should know about sun exposure:
Facts about sunburns
● Unlike burning yourself on the stove, sunburns are a unique kind of burn because they are not immediately apparent. You can’t usually tell your skin is burning until much later; redness develops between three and five hours after sun exposure. Burning peaks at about 12 hours and fades within 72.
●Did you know that you can get a sunburn in just 15 to 30 minutes? Children and those with light, fair skin and hair have less melanin and are at a higher risk for sunburn compared to adults and people with darker colored skin.
● Sunburns are caused by UVB rays while UVA rays cause cancer-increasing damage beneath the skin surface.
● Those that live in the mountains or or near the equator are at a higher risk for developing a burn since the ultraviolet rays are stronger in these regions.
● Certain medications, such as ibuprofen and motrin, make the skin more susceptible to burning. If you or your children take any medications, it is important to check the label for sun exposure warnings.
Soothing the burn
As parents, our child’s comfort is our own and soothing that sizzling burn becomes a priority when you come home from the beach. Here are some helpful remedies that you can utilize:
● When you arrive home, encourage your child to take a cool shower or bath to help reduce the inflammation. You can even add some chamomile tea bags, lavender oil, baking soda or oatmeal to the water for a soothing effect.iDepending on the severity of the burn, give them an appropriate dose or asprin or ibuprophen to reduce the swelling and pain.
● Aloe Vera is the classic go-to for burns. You can usually find it in drug and department stores and often times it is a green or blue gel. Aloe Vera is a plant that looks a bit like a cactus with gel-filled leaves. You can buy an Aloe Vera plant for your own home to use for any kind of burn, scrape, or itch. The gel straight from the plant, however, is not green or blue but rather clear. Better yet, whether you have a plant or a bottle from the store, store it in the refrigerator for a cool touch, just store plant gel in a jar.
●Another product that doesn’t require you to rub it onto a painful sunburn is Solarcaine Cool Aloe Burn Relief Spray Formula. It provides an instant cooling effect, the healing properties of aloe, and the pain relief of Solarcaine–all in an easy-to-apply spray. You can find this product at most drug stores and large retailers.
● Baking Soda is not only great for cookies and household cleaning but also for burn and even rash relief. Take a couple tablespoons of baking soda and mix into cold water. Use a soft washcloth or cotton balls to apply the solution to the burn.
● Apple cider vinegar is another great household-item remedy that brings much relief to sunburns, especially when it is refrigerated. Raw, unfiltered vinegar is the trick to the soothing power and it can also aid in healing the burn because it helps to balance the pH (alkalinity) of sunburned skin. Though it does have a more foul scent, this is sure to do a wonder! It is also safe for sunburns that develop blisters and reach the peeling stage. A great brand for this liquid gold is known as Bragg’s and you can find it at most grocery and health food stores.
● Witch Hazel is another soothing astringent for sunburns. This solution is used for both facial cleansing as well as first aid purposes and you can apply it with the same method of apple cider vinegar.
● Coconut oil has astounding healing properties and it is quite popular for its numerous uses today. Among these many uses, coconut oil promotes healing by moisturizing the skin and killing any potential germs since it is antibacterial. For a more soothing effect, add a few drops of peppermint oil. Coconut oil melts quickly with body heat so apply it quickly as a lotion.
● For severe burns with blisters present, do not pop or scratch them since this can lead to infection and increased pain. Instead, let them remain uncovered and soothe them gently with cold water. To avoid rupture, put some aloe vera gel or apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle.
● Vitamin E oil or gel, as long as it is real and not synthetic, with bring much moisture back to the skin and promote healing as well. If you have vitamin E supplements, take a few capsules and pop them open over the skin, lightly rubbing them into the skin.
If you haven’t already, Make a habit of checking on your kids throughout the day for sunburn, especially young kids who may not give any attention to it. Burns can be overlooked in bright daylight and since they take time to manifest on the skin, try limiting how much time they are outside and bring them in for activities in the house for a break. The best source of protection while they play? Use that sunscreen! But despite even our greatest efforts to protect our family’s skin, burn happen. So equip yourself with remedies to soothe that sun-baked skin and keep your children informed about sun exposure.