Halloween is around the corner, which for most children means bags of free candy and a chance to build a stockpile of sweets for the winter. No surprise, Halloween can also present parents with a variety of health and safety challenges. “It’s OK to eat that candy on Halloween but it’s important to have a plan,” says ADA dentist Dr. Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty.
Here’s how you can help your family have a healthy Halloween and stay healthy year-round.
Eat Halloween candy (and other sugary foods) with meals or shortly after mealtime. Saliva production increases during meals. This helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and rinse away food particles.
Staying away from sweet snacks is another healthy Halloween tip. Snacking can increase your risk of cavities, and it’s double the trouble if you keep grabbing sugary treats from the candy bowl. ”Snacking on candy throughout the day is not ideal for your dental health or diet,” Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty says.
Avoid hard candy and other sweets that stay in your mouth for a long time. Aside from how often you snack, the length of time sugary food is in your mouth plays a role in tooth decay. Unless it is a sugar-free product, candies that stay in the mouth for a long period of time subject teeth to an increased risk for tooth decay.
Sticky candies cling to your teeth. The stickier candies, like taffy and gummy bears, take longer to get washed away by saliva, increasing the risk for tooth decay.
It’s tempting to keep that candy around, but your teeth will thank you if you limit your stash. “Have your family pick their favorites and donate the rest,” Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty says.
World of Smiles will once again offer our “Candy Exchange.” Bring in your leftover candy in exchange for a toy!! The program runs from November 1 through 10, during office hours. Your donated candy will go to our troops through Operation Gratitude.
Your body is like a complex machine. The foods you choose as fuel and how often you “fill up” affect your general health and that of your teeth and gums.
This includes soda, sports drinks and flavored waters. When teeth come in frequent contact with beverages that contain sugar, the risk of tooth decay is increased.
Happy Healthy Halloween from all of us at World of Smiles!!
A version of this article was published by the American Dental Association, http://bit.ly/1vvq6tS
For more tips and strategies checkout; Halloween Candy: Your Dental Health Survival Guide.
Backpack? Check. Booster shots? Check. Teeth cleaning? Check!
Regular dental visits are important year-round, but a back-to-school checkup is key in fighting the most common chronic disease found in school-age children: cavities. In fact, dental disease causes children to miss more than 51 million school hours each year.
Prevention and early detection can help avoid pain, trouble eating, difficulty speaking and school absences. “When people are beginning to do their pediatrician checks to make sure their kids are school-ready, make sure teeth are part of it,” says pediatric dentist and American Dental Association spokesperson Dr. Mary Hayes.
Between cookouts, camping trips and everything else on your family’s summer bucket list, it’s easy for school to sneak up on you. Unfortunately, many parents may not think about making that appointment until after school starts. Schedule your back to school appointment during the summer before everyone is busy with new schedules, homework and after school activities. Your dentist will have more open appointment times to plan around your family’s busy schedule. August and September are often of your pediatric dentist’s busiest months.
The best kind of checkup is a cavity-free checkup. Moms and dads can help make this happen by encouraging kids to brush twice a day for two minutes and floss once a day. Here is age-by-age advice:
Ages 6 and Under
At this age, your child might want to do all the brushing herself but doesn’t have the fine motor skills needed to do a thorough job. Let them start and jump in when needed. “During that age, the mouth is changing so much that children who are 5 or 6 are often brushing their teeth in the way they were when they were 2 or 3,” Dr. Hayes says. “They’re not accommodating the new molars, and they’re not accommodating the fact that the mouth is growing.”
By now, your child knows what to do, she just might not want to. Keep encouraging healthy brushing and flossing habits. “Be aware of the fact that sometimes you have to take over a little bit more,” she says. “By the time they’re teenagers, they’re starting to understand self-care, accountability for their actions and such.”
Dr. Hayes says this is a critical time for dental health. “When you look at research for when caries appear in kids, it tends to be in young kids. But another bump-up time is teenage years and early adulthood,” she says. “Part of this has to do with the fact that teenagers may have gone for many years and never had a cavity. They don’t necessarily take care of their teeth because they don’t see the consequence of not.”
Don’t let your teen’s habits become out of sight, out of mind. “The behaviors of the teenager are going to translate into the 20-year-old. We want to be able to support them and be respectful of them because they’re not kids anymore.”
Time of day can make or break your child’s appointment. “It’s important for a child of any age who’s used to a nap to not schedule during naptime,” she says. If your child is always cranky after waking up, factor that in too.
For older children, avoid cramming in a dentist appointment right after day camp or school. “Not all kids have the energy to do that,” she says. “I will have parents who want to do very elaborate operative work after school because that’s when the kids can come out. But if the child has already been exhausted or had a bad day or had tests, they just don’t have the stamina to make it through the appointment successfully.”
If you’ve scheduled back-to-back appointments for your children, there’s a simple way to decide who goes first: Choose the child who’s had the most positive experiences at the dentist. “Every child is going to be a little bit different in their temperament about how they approach a visit,” she says. “You generally want the ones first who are more successful because the others get to see how it goes.”
Feed your child a light meal before the appointment. “Hungry people are grouchy people. You want them to be comfortable,” she says. “It’s also generally a good idea not to feed them in the waiting room before you see the dentist because there’s all that food in [their mouth].”
Eating light is also better for a child with a healthy gag reflex. “Some children gag a lot just because they gag with everything,” she says. “As they age and they get more control over swallowing, kids tend to gag less.”
Bonus points if your child brushes before an appointment. “It’s polite,” Dr. Hayes says.
If your heart races at the very thought of the dentist, your child can probably tell. “Kids pick up on parents’ anxiety,” Dr. Hayes says. “It’s important with kids, especially at 4, 5 and 6, because I believe the phobic adults are the ones who had bad experiences when they were that age.”
The younger your kids are, the more you need to be aware of how you’re communicating with them. For example, if your child asks about getting a cavity filled, don’t say, “It will only hurt for a little bit.” Instead, encourage your child to ask the dentist. “With any child, you want them to be able to feel successful at accomplishing a good visit and link that positive feeling with the idea that their teeth are strong and healthy so they have that message going forward for the rest of their lives.”
If your child gets upset during her visit, the worst thing you can do is swoop them out of the chair and leave. “The next visit is going to be harder,” Dr. Hayes says. “You still have to help them get through part of the visit.”
First, assess why your child is acting out. Are they truly afraid, or are they trying to test the situation? “One of the reasons I think a 4, 5 or 6-year-old gets upset is because they think they’re going to be asked to do something they can’t be successful at,” she says. “They’re in an environment they feel they can’t control and that makes them upset, so we try to break it down into small steps.”
Then, work as a team with your dentist to keep the visit going. Let the dentist lead the conversation. Jump in where you think it helps most, while still allowing the dentist and your child to build a good relationship. “Give the dentist every opportunity to turn the visit around,” she says.
Accidents can happen whether your child is in sports camp, gym class or just walking down the street. In case of emergency, make sure your child’s teachers and coaches have all the medical contact information they need – including your dentist’s number. Grab business cards for your wallet, your child’s backpack and your school’s files. “Parents should be very aware of accidents and make sure that wherever they go that they bring the number of their dentist so that if a child has an accident, they can certainly call the office,” Dr. Hayes says.
This article was original published by the American Dental Association, at http://bit.ly/1Ei7pCc
…if your little one happens to be a teeth grinder, you may be familiar with this unpleasant sound. Teeth grinding, or what is medically known as bruxism, is common in children. In fact, almost 30% of children grind or clench their teeth, usually in response to stress, jaw growth, malocclusion, losing teeth, or other discomforts, such as allergies. Kids typically outgrow teeth grinding by the time they reach their early teenage years.
Many kids who grind their teeth in their sleep don’t even realize they are doing it. In fact, when they wake up in the morning they feel no jaw, facial, neck, shoulder, or headache pain. Most often, if it hadn’t been for a parent or sibling telling them about it, the teeth grinding would have gone unnoticed by the child.
There are children, however, who wake up with jaw pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and headaches. Teeth grinding can cause a host of dental complications, from worn and cracked teeth and receding gums to a misaligned jaw. Your dentist can tell you if your child’s teeth grinding is not something to be concerned with or just monitor. Teeth grinding, especially when all of the permanent teeth are in, can have serious consequences that, if left untreated, can lead to tooth fractures and damage to the temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ.
The first step in helping your child recover from teeth grinding is noticing and diagnosing the problem. Symptoms of teeth grinding typically include:
If you suspect your child is a teeth grinder, our doctors and our team will be able to help. Please contact us at one of our 2 offices (West Portland or North Portland) if you have questions, www.visitworldofsmiles.com.
Here at World of Smiles we understand the importance of our children’s overall health. A healthy smiles comes from a healthy body and mind. In the spirit of promoting a healthy, active, community focused lifestyle we have relaunched our Pinterest page, https://www.pinterest.com/pdxkidsdentist/. Here you will find boards pinned with ideas, inspiration, fun, crafts, and more:
Hungry for healthy seasonal/holiday snacks, check-out our Food-for-Thought board.
Looking for family fun events around the Portland-Vancouver area, we’ve got you covered, This is happening PDX!
Too soggy to head outside, stay indoors and be creative with our Activities and Crafts board.
The world is an amazing place, go explore its beauty on our World of Wonder board.
We hope you enjoy our Pinterest boards. Happy inspiration, exploring, learning.
Need to schedule or reschedule your child’s next dental appointment? We have 2 locations, West (West Portland, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Tigard) and North (East Portland, Vancouver, Milwaukie, Gresham).
Happy New Year! You’ve probably thought about New Year’s resolutions in the wellness category, like eating healthier, going “green”, and increasing exercise. And that’s great! But have you considered your family’s dental health in the New Year? Don’t forget- dental health is an integral part of your overall wellness. Now is a great time to improve your mouth-healthy habits.
We want to help your family start the New Year off right. Review this checklist with your kids to ensure everyone has a healthier 2017!
Did every member of your family receive a perfect score on the checklist? If so, way to go! If not, there’s room for improvement in 2017. Read our past blog entries and continue to follow our blog for healthy tips and ideas.
We have two Portland area locations to help you get started, www.visitworldofsmiles.com
We wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year!
Dr. Staci Whitman and Dr. Michelle Stafford worked for nearly two years to bring World Of Smiles to North Portland. They seek to partner with families to provide education and motivation for healthy dental habits. The practice strives for excellent patient care with a holistic, integrative approach while offering innovative treatment options. Both Docs enjoy teaching families and other healthcare professionals the importance of prevention and laying a foundation of healthy dental practices from a young age. They advocate for infant and child oral health, have had extensive experience with patients of special needs, and are Board Certified Pediatric Dentists. Learn more about who your family will partner with at your next visit!