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
Article by Sara Clemence
Having kids definitely slowed my husband and me down. When you’ve got a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old, it can be hard to get to the grocery store—forget horseback riding in Patagonia or partying all night on a houseboat in Paris.
Still, we’ve managed to keep traveling without resorting to, um, resorts. The key to being intrepid with small children is being willing to go with the flow—but smart travel strategies help, too. Here’s what a travel editor has learned from flying, driving, pushing, carrying and sometimes dragging her two children around the world.
1. Plan your packing, so you don’t forget the essentials
We try to pack light, but especially when you have little kids, there are some things you simply do not want to be without (like wipes, bottles, and enough diapers to last for a couple of days). I start my packing list a week before we leave, because those everyday items can be easy to forget—when I use them, I add them to the roster. I have no desire to repeat the Vancouver Car Seat Incident, which was made infinitely worse by the fact that we had run out of baby wipes.
2. Pay up for good gear
Travel cribs, strollers, and the like can add up. But it’s worth buying equipment that is durable and lightweight—an extra five pounds feels like 50 when you’re running for a flight. Our phil&teds travel crib cost about $200 and is a little complicated to assemble. But it clocks in at just seven pounds and can even fit in a large suitcase. Another option is to buy inexpensive gear, like an umbrella stroller, when you arrive at a destination, and donate it before you leave. Just know that it can be time-consuming.
3. Ask (and ask again) for the baby bed
On many (though not all) international flights you can get a baby bassinet—a little cot for infants that attaches to the wall in front of the bulkhead seats. They’re free, but you have to reserve them in advance. Book as early as possible, call at least once before the flight to confirm the bed, and remind the flight crew when you board that you reserved one. It’s a hassle, but the payoff for your arms is huge.
4. Sort out your in-flight entertainment in advance
Crinkly books, nesting toys, small puzzles, Legos, and other small toys kept my son occupied when he was a baby. Save a shopping trip by spending 15 minutes on Amazon. Now that he’s a preschooler, we load an iPad up with movies and “educational” games the night before the trip. Read that last part again: we learned the hard way that you don’t want to have to wait for Penguins of Madagascar to finish downloading so you can leave for the airport. Over-the-ear headphones are a good idea, too, since earbuds don’t sit well in little ears. Friends in 18B: You’re welcome.
5. Know how to find a kid-friendly apartment
We rent houses or flats equipped for young children whenever possible. You generally get more space than in a hotel, you can cook or eat in, you won’t have to worry as much about safety or damage, you might be able to borrow gear like cribs and strollers, and there’s built-in entertainment for your little ones. (What kid doesn’t love playing with someone else’s toys?) My trick: when searching Airbnb, I check “family friendly” in the amenities list, then look for listings that have photos of children’s rooms.Kid & Coe is like Airbnb for families—all of its properties are kid-friendly and upscale. But I’ve also found them to be more expensive.
6. If you stay in a hotel, shoot for a suite
Another reason we usually stay in rentals is that can be such a hassle to reserve hotel suites or connecting rooms. But sometimes we need last-minute lodging, or the rental options are unappealing. And it is not cool to have to go to bed at 7:30 because you’re sleeping in the same room as your two children. My secret weapon is Book a Suite, a website that’s exactly what it sounds like. When reserving, make sure that the “suite” is actually more than one room and not just a larger-than-normal guest room.
7. Bring plastic bags
I always pack a few big black plastic garbage bags, a few grocery sacks and a wad of painter’s tape in our luggage. Classy, I know! But the big bags work as blackout curtains in too-bright rooms (the tape won’t mark walls). The little ones are good for dirty laundry, used diapers and snack trash, and can cover less-than pristine seats (see: the Vancouver Car Seat Incident).
8. Carry lots of small bills
You’ll probably need them for luggage carts, vending machines, and tips (extra small people = additional luggage = needing more help from bellmen). Open your wallet for anything else relatively inexpensive that might make the trip easier. That includes but is not limited to: priority boarding, checked bags, and airline seats with extra legroom.
9. Be ambitious
I was really anxious before a trip we took to Europe. Was I completely insane to take two babies on a three-week-long, figure-it-out-along-the-way adventure? I kept reminding myself that I wanted our family to be adventurous. The takeaway from trip: Children are almost always capable of exceeding expectations. You can even take a toddler to a contemporary art museum without anyone crying (including you).
10. Know when to back down
One evening at an upscale sushi restaurant on the other side of the country, my normally well-behaved son started hollering and trying to scale the velvet banquette. “What’s wrong with him?” my husband said. What was wrong with us? You can’t take a 2-year-old sightseeing all day, let him skip his nap, and then expect him to behave in a fancy restaurant. We’ve learned that sometimes you need to quit while you’re ahead. And, that you can have pizza delivered in Paris.
This article was originally published at Travel + Leisure, http://tandl.me/1NYdgN1
To schedule an appointment or for more information, please visit, www.visitworldofsmiles.com. We have two Portland area locations to serve you.
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!