How To Find The Best Dentist For Your Special Needs Child

Establishing trustWe all know how important it is to find the right dentist for your family. There are several factors that come into play- someone who understands your concerns and makes you feel comfortable, someone with experience and the skills necessary, someone close to your home, someone who takes or helps with filing your insurance. These criteria are important for sure but there are a few more factors to take into account when finding a dentist for your special needs child.

A dentist with rave reviews and the most experience may not always mean they are the best choice for your special needs child. It is important that the dental staff and doctor know and understand the needs of your child before the appointment. The best way to handle this is to schedule a sit down with the doctor to discuss exactly what is needed and make sure the dental team can accommodate your needs. Most dental offices offer free consultations for exactly this reason. You’ll want to discuss your child’s disabilities and sensitivities. You’ll also want to discuss the dental office’s policies for restraining children who are unable to control their movements or may become agitated or combative. These options may range from sitting them in the parent’s lap and holding them to a papoose board, or even mild sedation.

Having a plan in place prior to the dental treatment appointment will eliminate possible mental trauma and anguish to your child and frustration with your dental team.

While most general dentistry practices see children, it may be wise to look into a pediatric dentist who is specially trained and equipped for children. There are even pediatric dentists who have become trained in special needs dentistry by completing two or more years of advanced education beyond dental school. These dentists have a complete understanding of the issues your child may have with visiting a dentist- sensitivity to touch, new people, change of environment or routine. A dental staff who is fully trained to handle these concerns will take steps to ensure that the child is seen by the same staff member each time, in the same room and chair, while wearing the same outfit each time.

Dental care is important for all children and adults alike but because children with disabilities have higher incident of gum disease, cavities and other dental concerns, it is very important you find a dentist that you can all feel comfortable with and trust. If you are unsure how to find a dentist to fit your needs, check with advocacy organizations in your area. Your child deserves to be as comfortable as possible during every dental appointment.

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 01-21-2013 to 01-27-2013

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:

Apps and Other Digital Tools Lend a Hand to New Mothers – A New Mom MUST read!!

4 Thumb-sucking Remedies That Work

Got a sucker? As sweet as it may seem when your kids are toddlers, the nasty habit can wreak havoc on tooth and mouth development if it continues after adult teeth appear, or around age 5. Most kids stop on their own before then; others respond to gentle reminders or praise. But if your kids’ digits remain the go-to soother once they’ve started school, try these mom-tested tips for kicking the habit.

Focus on fashion: At age 3, Imani Robinson loved her two middle fingers. But she loved fashion more! Her mom, Kenya Robinson of Los Angeles, used colorful band-aids to help her kick the habit. Imani loved the pink girly ones so much she didn’t dare get them wet.

Find a role model: Whether it’s an older sibling or the cool kid down the street, find an impressive role model who either quit the habit or never started it. That’s what worked for Fred Gabriel’s younger son Jeremy. “He really wanted to emulate his big brother Sam — and Sam never sucked his thumb,” says the Kent, Conn., dad.

Dial the doctor or dentist: Sometimes, parents aren’t the best authority figures. Elena Tapper’s middle son, Dylan, was very selective sucker — going for the thumb only when he had a snuggly in hand, which was never in public. Nothing the Montclair, N.J., mom said made a difference. But when Dylan was nearly 6, the dentist sat him down and made a deal with him: On his birthday, he’d quit cold turkey. It worked.

Get creative: It took a story and a song to get Kristen Jenkins’s 3-year-old daughter Olivia to stop sucking her thumb. The Harrisburg, Penn., mom read The Berenstain Bears and the Bad Habit and made up a song to go with it: “I’m 3; no more thumb for me!” Six week later, the job was done. Andrea Van Ness of Denver grew so frustrated by her son Charlie’s incessant thumb-sucking, she created Thumbuddy To Love, a sucking cessation system that includes finger puppets, a storybook and success stickers. Her son quit in two weeks and launched her into entrepreneurship.

Stopping finger-sucking doesn’t have to be a painful process — and it may save you from future pain and expense at the orthodontist’s.

How to Talk to Your Kids About…Using Bad Language

No parent likes to hear four letter words around the house, or potty talk during a play date. Talking to our children about the importance of appropriate words, can help put a stop to the foul language and dirty mouths.

When bad words start appearing at your house, don’t overreact. This is what your child wants you to do. When we get upset and draw attention to the unacceptable words, our children will use them more and more to get attention. We need to stay calm.

Take time to talk to your children:

  • Explain that even though they may hear other people using profanity, it is not acceptable in your family and you expect them to make better word choices.
  • It is also important to talk to your children about how words can hurt people just like hitting them does. Foul language can be mocking, degrading, and scornful. Help your child examine the effects that swear words have on others and on themselves. Where appropriate, use a personal example to illustrate a time when bad words hurt you or someone you know.
  • When your child does use profanity, make it clear that you expect them to apologize to those around them that heard the bad language.

Then, take time to talk to them about why they are using those words and how they feel when they swear. Talk about other words they could use when they are angry or frustrated, instead of foul language.

Our children learn the most from the example we set for them. We must be sure that we are not using bad words. My husband learned this the hard way. About a year ago he said, “these kids were screwing around at school” in front of our 3 year old. Although this is not a four-letter word, we don’t want our three year old saying it. She spent the rest of the day saying, “screwing around.” Hearing it once was all it took. My husband learned quickly, to watch every word. We also learned to pay close attention to the music they listen to, the TV and movies they watch, and the friends they play with.

Talk about the consequences of swearing, before it happens. Choose wisely. The consequence should encourage them to make better word choices, without scaring them off from communicating with you altogether. Talk to your child about why they used the words they did. Did they swear to impress their friends, to get your attention, or maybe because they are angry? There are reasons our children talk like this, try to find the reason and it will aid in knowing how to deal with the problem.

Other tips for dirty mouths:

  • When children are small, teach them the correct names for body parts. This way, they will be “no big deal words” to your kids and they won’t get excitement or satisfaction out of using them.
  • Often, children of all ages swear or use potty talk to get attention. Children need lots of attention. Whether the attention comes from positive or negative actions, they are still getting attention. Be sure you are giving your children plenty of positive attention.
  • Do not respond to bad language. Make it clear that you won’t respond unless they speak using appropriate words. Walk away if you need to.
  • Teach kids how to manage and deal with anger. Older kids swear because they are angry or trying to fit in and be popular. If they learn young how to manage their anger, they will be less likely to swear when they are mad. Teach them self-mastery. Help build your child’s self esteem so that they don’t feel the need to act out, to “fit in” and be popular. Make sure they know how popular they are in your eyes so they aren’t overly seeking that attention in other places.

It is very normal for young children and teenagers to go through “dirty mouth” phases. We can’t stop the words from coming out of their mouths, but we can do a few things that shorten the “phase” and keep things on track.

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 01-14-2013 to 01-20-2013

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:

Childhood constipation: Surprising truths and tips for relief | Confessions of a Dr. Mom

Stress Affects Kids’ Health Too – Maybe All their Lives

Throughout my studies in public health I am constantly being introduced to new and interesting perspectives on the health of communities, as well as all the influences that can undermine our well-being. Right now I am taking a course on the behavioral and biological impacts of stress. Stress is integrally related to our health – not just affecting our mood or our sleep – but working at the basic level of our tissues and cells to advance early negative processes that lead to heart disease, or impair our immune systems.

And stress isn’t just an element in the adult world. Children increasingly suffer stress and stress-related disorders as well. The National Institute of Mental Health, part of the government’s National Institutes of Health, reports that 11% of teens have experienced depression at some time in their life to date, and studies have shown similar rates of anxiety disorders among youth. Furthermore, stress in childhood – particularly extreme levels related to neglect, abuse and ongoing family dysfunction – appears to have longer-term health effects. A report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The Effects of Childhood Stress on Health Across the Lifespan, highlights a range of negative outcomes from “toxic stress” such as alterations in brain development, impaired learning and memory, and immune system issues in later life.

Even everyday stresses that result from a competitive and complex society have been shown to adversely impact health, both of people and of animals such as baboons. An excellent National Geographic video – Stress, Portrait of a Killer – outlines how dealing with long-term challenges and having a low position in society (human or baboon) can undermine health. The video is about an hour long, but it’s well worth watching with a – relaxing – hot drink.

So what about kids? Do they experience everyday or ongoing stress? Personally, I’ve seen it with my son. In second grade he experienced a period of bullying and wasn’t enjoying school. It took us some time to realize the extent of his stress and anxiety but he was exhibiting some of the classic signs, such as detachment, crying spells, and self-comfort such as rocking. Click here for more on stress and the possible signs in young children. Now in 5th grade he’s talking about feeling stressed from all the homework he’s getting – and I can see how it is sometimes affecting his mood and sleep. In fact our experience is consistent with findings from a national Kid’s Health poll of 9-13 year-olds that showed the top childhood stressors to be “grades, school, and homework (36%); family (32%); and friends, peers, gossip, and teasing (21%)”.

Thankfully, both adults and children can learn to manage or reduce their stress levels – with a variety of relaxation approaches available to try – from mindfulness, to yoga, to massage and deep-breathing exercises. In my next post I will review a resource for practicing a common stress-reduction technique “progressive muscle relaxation,” created just for kids.