Salem Community Patriot | March 9, 2012 - 19
An Apple a Day Keeps the Dentist Away How Parents Can Help Their Kids Achieve Good Oral Health
Well Care Well Care
More than two-thirds of children will have at least one cavity before their 19th birthday, the Centers for Disease Control and Pre- vention report. While tooth decay remains one of the most common health problems in children, it is also the most preventable, experts say.
“With proper education and regular dentist appointments, chil- dren can go their whole life without dental health problems,” says LaVerne Johnson, dental assistant instructor at Everest College - Fort Worth South. Johnson, along with the other dental assistant instructors at the
Everest campuses across Texas, understands the importance of maintaining good dental health. Johnson has a few tips on what children and parents can do to protect and strengthen their smiles for years to come.
* Brush and floss daily - the right way. It’s not new advice, but brushing and flossing remain the two most important ingredients for a healthy smile. However, to truly be effective, they must be done correctly. Parents should model and teach their children the correct techniques to keep their teeth healthy and clean. Brushing should require only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and incorporate circular brush strokes to reach all surfaces. Often, because of their limited dexterity, children will brush too hard, which can lead to increased tooth sensitivity and receding gum lines. * Proper flossing requires wrapping the floss around the fingers and then gliding the thread between teeth in a C-shaped motion. This prevents plaque buildup between teeth and under the gum line. Make sure your child uses a new section of floss each time he or she goes between two new teeth to avoid spreading bacteria throughout the mouth. * Limit sugary snacks and drinks. The bacteria that form plaque feed on sugar and use it as a glue to stick to teeth. Be aware of the snacks you provide your children. Foods like raisins, peanut butter, taffies, toffees, soft candies and pastries stick to teeth and provide a long-term feast for bacteria. When your children do eat sweets, have them eat them after a meal. When eaten alone, sweets are more
healthy body, mind, and spirit.
likely to stick to teeth and bond until the next brush- ing. Crunchy foods like apples, carrots and other raw vegetables, as well as foods high in vitamin C, like citrus fruits and broccoli are not only healthier, but also naturally clean teeth while kids eat them. Limiting consumption of sugary foods and drinks will not only help promote healthier children, but will also reduce cavities. This advice is not just for older children. Many parents don’t realize infants are also susceptible to cavities and often get “baby bottle cavities.” Allowing a child to sip through the night on a baby bottle filled with fruit juice or milk can cause cavities. * Protect their teeth. Using fluoride toothpaste helps
your child’s teeth to be less soluble to the acids cre- ated by bacteria. However, using too much creates a condition known as mottled enamel, which appears as brown spots on teeth. The key to avoiding mottled enamel is using the right amount of fluoride. For infants, a small smear of fluoride toothpaste is suf- ficient, and for children younger than 7, use no more than a pea-sized amount. It is also important to know
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if your child is consuming fluoridated water. Check with your local water utility to find out if your water has fluoride in it as well as the amount it contains. Along with fluoride, dental sealants are an excellent way to prevent tooth decay in children. The dental sealant procedure takes only minutes, is painless, is less than half the cost of a filling and is virtually 100 percent effective at stopping decay. * Proper procedures can save teeth. Children involved in sports need proper mouth protection to prevent mouth injuries, knocked- out teeth and possible concussions. Ask your dentist about custom- ized mouth guards. If your child knocks out a permanent tooth while playing sports, gently rinse the tooth off and place it in a cup of warm milk. If warm milk is not available, salt water or plain water will also work. Call your dentist and bring your child and the soak- ing tooth in immediately for re-implantation and stabilization. * Make dentist visits fun. If children have a good attitude about their dental hygiene, they will be more likely to take proper care of their teeth. Appointments should be made right at the appearance of the first tooth, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). Early visits make for a more pleasant experience for the child and help prevent future health problems. In fact, stud- ies done by the AAPD show improper oral hygiene may increase a child’s risk of eventually developing heart disease or suffering a stroke as an adult. Be positive about the dentist and explain to your children that the dentist is a friendly doctor who is helping to take care of their smiles. “The most important thing for parents to remember is that tak- ing care of a child’s teeth is very important for his or her future health,” says Johnson. “Although your children will lose their baby teeth, that doesn’t mean they are not important. Healthy baby teeth influence jaw placement and future alignment of permanent teeth, which is one of the reasons parents can end up spending hundreds of dollars on future dental work and orthodontics.”
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While the cure for the common cold remains elusive, medical treatment of many everyday ailments has become routine. Sinus infections, pink eye, bladder infections - these simple illnesses and many others today are well understood, easily diagnosed and effec- tively treated with modern medications.
Consumer access to medical information is also easier than ever. Since the first medical websites emerged in the late 1990s, people have flocked to them in skyrocketing numbers. Today, an estimated 80 percent of Americans go online to search for health information. Around the world, anyone with a computer and an Internet con- nection can tap into online information about various diseases and conditions, and learn about the medications and other treatments commonly prescribed to combat them. Still, most health sites, while informative, can’t diagnose or treat
you. They’re the online equivalent of a medical library, except they’re available with a few mouse clicks. People often type in their symp- toms - or in many cases, those of their child - from their homes, of- fices and even mobile devices to find out what might be ailing them. But today, consumers can get a lot more than just health informa- tion from online resources. A new breed of “online clinics” connects customers directly with experienced practitioners who can treat them safely - and very conveniently - wherever they are. People who live in Minnesota and Wisconsin, for example, have access to virtuwell.com
, whose board-certified nurse practitioners offer profes- sional health care anytime - days, nights and weekends, 365 days a year. The service is avail- able to anyone, including children over age two. “Consumers are embracing innovations that make quality health care more convenient,” said Kevin Palattao, vice president of virtuwell, founded by the large Minnesota nonprofit health care organization, HealthPartners. “We provide Minnesotans and Wisconsinites with personalized diagnoses, treatment plans, and even prescriptions if needed. It takes less than a half-hour, and it’s all online.”
Virtuwell treats most common medical condi- tions, including acne, bladder infections, yeast infections, colds, coughs, allergies, flu, lice, pink eye, sinus infections, and rashes and other skin irritations. The process includes a thorough medi- cal interview, and in some cases, a user-submit- ted picture as well. And consumers can connect immediately with a nurse practitioner about their case by phone at any time, day or night. With no appointment needed and 24-hour online access, people can rely on virtual clinics
whenever illness occurs. So far, thousands have. “Say you realize you have a bladder infection at 3 a.m. on a
Saturday. By just going online, you can have a professional virtually by your side, providing the answers you want immediately,” Palattao says. “Customers tell us again and again that we’re making a real dif- ference in their busy lives. And with people paying more health care costs from their own pockets, the savings are very welcome, too” People often get sick while traveling. However, they don’t need to be at home to get help from virtuwell. Minnesota and Wisconsin residents can even have prescriptions called into a nearby pharmacy if they’re outside their home state. And follow-up care, if needed, is provided at no extra charge. How it works * Visit virtuwell.com
to take a quick online interview. * Get a diagnosis and a treatment plan from a nurse practitioner, along with a prescription sent to your pharmacy (if needed). * If symptoms indicate a more severe condition, referrals to appro- priate in-person care are always free.
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