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.
…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.
With the holiday season beginning, our little ones will need help navigating this stimulating and exciting time.
“The best way to change behavior isn’t discipline. You need to figure out what you want your child TO DO, instead of what NOT TO DO…”
The Quick Guide to Toddler Time Out
by Alexis Dubief
Parenting a toddler can make you yearn for the glorious newborn days where you could just carry your compliant child around with you like an adorable loaf of bread. So it’s no surprise that parents find themselves looking for techniques to help manage their toddler’s behavior because toddlers, by their very nature, are often unmanageable. One popular approach is toddler time out: putting your toddler in a chair or some other safe comfortable space for 1-2 minutes. During the toddler time out, your toddler will calm down and quietly reflect on their behavior, identifying their contribution to the current situation and changes they can affect to do better in the future.
I think parents of toddlers gravitate towards the idea of time outs because:
I don’t remember where I first came across the idea of time outs but I believe it was on Super Nanny.
I would watch the videos of parents wrestling their kid into the naughty chair for what appears to be 27 hours while the Benny Hill theme song plays in the background. It’s hard to watch this and feel like it’s a winning strategy. My own attempts played out in much the same way leaving me feel resentful and defeated.
So I asked two child psychologists about it.
Drs. Kate Viezel and Jamie Zibulsky see patients at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Center for Psychological Services and are trained in Alan Kazdin’s Parent Management Technique (PMT). They also run a year-long PMT externship for psychology students. And they are both parents of young children so they totally “get it.” And this is what they have to say about it…
The Power of Positive Reinforcement
The best way to change behavior isn’t discipline.
Say what now? How do I get my child to stop being a small dictator if I don’t punish her? Well, as psychologists have known since teaching rats how to run through mazes, the best way to change behavior is through positive reinforcement. Rats won’t do much if you shock them when they make a wrong turn, but if you put a piece of cheese at the end of the maze, suddenly you have a little furry Einstein. If you’re offended that we are comparing your child to a rat, clearly you haven’t been subjected to the tiny claws of a tantruming toddler.
What does “positive reinforcement” mean in real life? You need to figure out what you want your child TO do, instead of what NOT TO DO (more on this later). And you need to regularly acknowledge when they do something right. Here are some examples of how to positively reinforce your child:
Most of us pay way more attention to our children when they do something wrong than when they do something right. Or we may praise exceptional accomplishment while breezing by the run-of-the-mill appropriate things they do every day. But research and experience show that kids behave better when people focus on the things they are doing right, even when those things are as simple as sitting down at the table to eat breakfast.
Tactics for Stubbornness vs. Aggression
Now that you have some strategies you can use when your kiddo is acting the way you want them to, let’s get to the issue you really want to address – what to do when your child is being stubborn or aggressive. By being stubborn (or, more charitably, “developing a sense of autonomy”) we mean those times when your peanut says, “no I won’t wear mittens, no you can’t change my diaper, no I’m not getting in that car seat, no I won’t stop throwing toys down the stairs.” And aggression is anything that hurts bodies or feelings, like hitting, kicking, screaming “I hate you!”, etc.
If you’re having a hard time getting your kid to follow instructions, first remember the power of positive reinforcement. That means you’ll need to be on the lookout for times when your child DOES put on their shoes the first time you ask. Simply saying “Great job getting in the bath the first time I asked!” (or doing a little happy dance) can work wonders.
Assuming you are praising, hugging, high-fiving, and Candy-Landing your kid a ton, another great response to noncompliance is to allow the natural consequence to play out. A natural consequence is anything (positive or negative) that flows organically from the child’s choice.
As an example, if your toddler breaks all their crayons into tiny bits of wax confetti, the natural consequence is that they’ve rendered their crayons unusable for drawing. The next time they want to draw they’ll be disappointed to find their crayons are no longer usable. You don’t lecture or use this moment to toss out a well-deserved “I told you so!” but trust your child to come to their own conclusions and let that inform future decisions. Natural consequences can be challenging for parents because we’ve been conditioned to believe that parenting means actively doing something and it can be hard to just sit back and let life happen without our involvement. It’s hard to get out of the way and trust your child to figure things out. But allowing natural consequences to happen is an enormously powerful and effective parenting strategy.
But what about aggression? Aggression isn’t something you can ignore, and timeout can be an effective strategy to use when bodies or feelings are getting hurt.
If done correctly.
How To Use Toddler Time Out
The time-out is a mild punishment technique that is usually an improvement over what many parents wind up doing when their kids are aggressive (arguing, harsh punishment, yelling, etc).
Time out can be effective, but you should do it consistently and rarely. And you must be regularly using positive reinforcement strategies in order for time out to work.
It is also important to remember that time out only works if you are removing a child from a highly reinforcing environment. Pick a place in your house where your child can sit in time out without any reinforcement or stimulation.
It should be brief; anything longer than 5-8 minutes isn’t any more effective than a shorter time-out, and can lead to additional problems. The minute-per-age rule (three minutes for a three year old) is pretty good, but we would recommend that you max out at about five minutes, regardless of the age of the child. Also, some kids might not be able to do three minutes; in this case, even one minute (or less) is sufficient.
Time outs should not involve any attention given to the child because any attention can reinforce negative behaviors. Time out should definitely not involve a power struggle. Any attention (even “negative”) defeats the purpose of time out. (Walking the child back to the time out spot a billion times is absolutely a power struggle and nobody wins a power struggle). Physically holding a child in time-out is giving them ALL THE ATTENTION, and carries the risk of accidental injury. If the child refuses to do time out, offer a choice of time-out or a privilege loss. If the child refuses the time out, they lose the privilege. Once the child either does time-out or loses the privilege, let the whole thing go. No one likes a lecture so save the moral discussion for a time when everyone is calm. Take a deep breath, grab the play-dough, and head outside for some fun.
Keep in the mind that, for all of the reasons above, it may be very tricky (and counterproductive) to give a time out to a child younger than the age of two or three. If you don’t think your child will be able to sit still for a brief time out or understand the concept of privilege loss, then they’re too young. You can still remove your child from the environment that is triggering the aggressive behavior, and pay lots of attention to appropriate behaviors.
The most important point is that time outs alone will not lead to behavior change. Reinforcement of good behavior will. If the child is not receiving praise, attention, and rewards for good behavior, all the time outs in the world won’t do a thing. You need to regularly acknowledge when our toddler uses gentle hands with the dog, plays nicely with their brother, and sits still for a diaper change.
This article originally appeared on 7/22/2016, http://bit.ly/2eBpjEA
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!