Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sweet Tooth

     A vital part of a healthy lifestyle is regular check ups.  While I don't necessarily practice what I preach on myself, I do stick to it with my kiddos.  Working for a medical school helps enforce the importance of regular checkups as well.  So yesterday I took the wee one for her first dental exam.  She has gone with her sister and me for the past couple...I wanted her to see what happens at the dentist so the first check up she had wouldn't totally freak her out...but yesterday was the first time she actually sat in the chair and got to participate.
chillin in the chair-the dentist gives you "protective eyewear" to avoid splashes to the eyes
     My little peanut was a champ. She kicked back and relaxed and said AHHHHH!  She was some at home at the dentists office-you can't see it in the pic above-but she had actually kicked off her shoes and socks.  What a goof ball.  We did get some "constructive criticism" about her teeth.  As a now three year old, we need to say good bye to the bink.  This is something I have known for a LONG time, but am so weak at enforcing.  She generally only uses it at bedtime and in times of duress...but alas...I know that it needs to leave for good.  We started the "discussion" about BinkerBell coming from Pixie Hollow to take her leftover binks to the baby fairies.  She seems skeptical. 
     We also have a few other contenders to deal with.  We have always let the girls take drinks with them to bed...and now it has bitten me (pardon the pun) in the butt.  Due to those late night juice/milk cuppies we are actually going back to get some more work done next week where there is already enamel erosion on her top front teeth.  I am hoping that she does just as well with this and she did with the initial exam and cleaning.  She has also been sleeping poorly and that is probably because her lower two year molars are starting to break through...she likes to WAIT like her mother and is just now getting those two years molars in.  Still no sign of the uppers. :)  We will also at some point have to address the little bit of skin that attaches the upper lip that is too long, but (thankfully) no rush there.

showing off her freshly polished choppers
     So with all of this in mind, I thought I would share some information on good oral health for both children and adults.  Here are some things you can do to ensure good oral health for your child and yourself.

For the kiddos (courtesy of the CDC):
  • Encourage your children to eat regular nutritious meals and avoid frequent between-meal snacking.
  • Protect your child's teeth with fluoride.
    • Use a fluoride toothpaste. If your child is less than 7 years old, put only a pea-sized amount on their toothbrush.
    • If your drinking water is not fluoridated, talk to a dentist or physician about the best way to protect your child's teeth.
  • Talk to your child's dentist about dental sealants. They protect teeth from decay.
  • If you are pregnant, get prenatal care and eat a healthy diet. The diet should include folic acid to prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord and possibly cleft lip/palate.
For the adults (also from the CDC):
  • Drink fluoridated water and use a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride's protection against tooth decay works at all ages.
  • Take care of your teeth and gums. Thorough tooth brushing and flossing to reduce dental plaque can prevent gingivitis—the mildest form of gum disease.
  • Avoid tobacco. In addition to the general health risks posed by tobacco, smokers have 4 times the risk of developing gum disease compared to non-smokers. Tobacco use in any form—cigarette, pipes, and smokeless (spit) tobacco—increases the risk for gum disease, oral and throat cancers, and oral fungal infection (candidiasis). Spit tobacco containing sugar increases the risk of tooth decay. Additional information is available at http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/publications/CDNR/.
  • Limit alcohol. Heavy use of alcohol is also a risk factor for oral and throat cancers. When used alone, alcohol and tobacco are risk factors for oral cancers, but when used in combination the effects of alcohol and tobacco are even greater.
  • Eat wisely. Adults should avoid snacks full of sugars and starches. Limit the number of snacks eaten throughout the day. The recommended five-a-day helping of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables stimulates salivary flow to aid remineralization of tooth surfaces with early stages of tooth decay.
  • Visit the dentist regularly. Check-ups can detect early signs of oral health problems and can lead to treatments that will prevent further damage, and in some cases, reverse the problem. Professional tooth cleaning (prophylaxis) also is important for preventing oral problems, especially when self-care is difficult.
  • Diabetic patients should work to maintain control of their disease. This will help prevent the complications of diabetes, including an increased risk of gum disease.
  • If medications produce a dry mouth, ask your doctor if there are other drugs that can be substituted. If dry mouth cannot be avoided, drink plenty of water, chew sugarless gum, and avoid tobacco and alcohol.
  • Have an oral health check-up before beginning cancer treatment. Radiation to the head or neck and/or chemotherapy may cause problems for your teeth and gums. Treating existing oral health problems before cancer therapy may help prevent or limit oral complications or tissue damage.
Remember to brush and floss daily!!

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