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Is it Safe to Wiggle a Loose Baby Tooth?

My daughter Katie’s first baby tooth came out in a spoonful of Nutella. And she lost the second one backstage at a play when she bumped a chair against her mouth by accident. She had gauze in her mouth until seconds before she had to perform.

By the time the third tooth got loose, she was pretty brazen about it. She wiggled it. She let kids at school wiggle it. And I worried whether all that twisting and turning would make the tooth come out before it was ready, so I asked her to leave it alone and let nature take its course. The tooth fairy did visit, and she has visited a couple of more times since then.

But since Katie has 12 more of her 20 baby teeth to lose, I knew this issue would come up again. So I called Rhea Haugseth, dentist and president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, for some advice.

“My daughter is obsessed with wiggling a loose tooth. Is that helpful or harmful?” I asked.

“Most kids can’t resist,” said Haugseth, assuring me that Katie’s behavior is normal. “It’s fine to go after it. It’s actually even good.”

Haugseth explained that even wiggling a baby tooth wouldn’t make it come out before it’s ready. “By the time a child feels that a tooth is loose, the roots of the baby tooth have dissolved and only the gum tissue is holding it in its place,” she said. “In fact, if it’s left in there too long – because some children may be scared to wiggle it – the surrounding gums can get inflamed and irritated. That’s when parents call me.”

“So what do you recommend if a child is scared to wiggle her tooth?”

“I tell moms to accidentally bump into it when they’re helping their child brush their teeth,” she says. “And if that doesn’t work, a conversation about what the tooth fairy might bring works wonders.”

Wishing You a Safe, Happy and Healthy 2021!

GOODBYE 2020!!!

The end could not come fast enough!

For many it’s been heartbreaking, lonely …at times terrifying

A year full of overwhelming grief at loss of loved ones and livelihoods …of every aspect of life as we knew it

But you were stronger than you ever thought possible …and you have survived

 

We know it is not over…there are still difficult days ahead…but we can see a light…even if it is just the glimmer from a candle burning in the darkness

I hope we as a people continue to value the heroes of 2020 – long after this nightmare is over

Thank you healthcare workers, emergency responders, police men and women and teachers! Thank you to every essential worker who kept a food service open, a building clean and safe, a transportation service operational. Thank you to every person who put their lives on the line so that the rest of us could live to see tomorrow.
It is to you we dedicate 2021!

 

And on a personal note from all of us at Pediatric Safety:

Our thanks to all of you who stayed with us

We’re honored you’ve let us
be a part of your life.

Have a Safe, Happy and Healthy 2021!

Stefanie, Clara, Audra and Jim….

Want to Know the Truth about Halloween Candy & Cavities?

Let’s be realistic, as much as we try to limit Trick or Treat 2our children’s in take of sugar and candy, Halloween is way too much fun to not participate. Plus, we get to reap the rewards as the parents of the children with the over size pillow case for a trick or treat bag!

In all seriousness, candy is not the cause of cavities.. diet is! Every time a child puts something in his/her mouth, their PH is lowered and therefore is more acidic which helps break down food. This is all part of the digestive process along with chewing.

What is worse then a big bag full of Halloween candy? Soda pop! (Even sugar free or diet soda). Soda has phosphoric acid which creates the bubbles. We use citric in dentistry to roughen a tooth surface to help it bond to filling material. Another type of drink to avoid are sports drinks. They are also very acidic and cause problems when sipped on over a long period of time. Water is always the best way to rehydrate.

Cookies, chips and pretzels are long chains of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are sugar. When cookies, chips and pretzels get wet with saliva they get sticky and stay in the grooves of the teeth.

Believe it or not, chocolate, within moderation, is actually a better snack. The fat in chocolate makes the tooth slick so it does not stick to it.

We hand out chocolate for trick or treats! It’s ok to do this once a year.
Happy Halloween!

The Happy Visit: A Child’s First Trip to the Dentist

You want your child’s first experience at the dentist to be a positive one no matter what age they are. A child going to the dentist for the first time is often a handful of anxieties. Any dentist or hygienist using the right techniques can transform the most terrified child into a cooperative patient who is no longer afraid – a child who will leave the office with a smile on his face.

The American Dental Association or (ADA) recommends that you schedule your child’s first appointment with the dentist after their first Make it Funbaby tooth erupts. These early visits are encouraged between 12-18 months of age for several reasons. Educating mom and dad on proper nutrition and dental hygiene for their kids is a big part of that. All children should be socialized into the dental setting with what we call “happy visits” beginning by age two. This no-stress visit would be tailored to the child’s level of maturity and self-confidence. A ride in the “cool dentist chair”, playing with the air-water hand piece, and seeing a big sister do all this are all steps to successful rapport building even with the tiniest of patients.

Some tips for a good first dental visit:

  • First and foremost, pick a dentist that has a good reputation for working with kids. Some dentists specialize in pediatric dentistry but many family dentists will also be able to meet both you and your child’s needs.
  • Secondly, if you decide to bring your child to the dentist at the age of one, try not to make a big deal about the visit. They can sit on your lap and you can comfort them as you would at any doctor’s appointment.
  • Thirdly, your child may not remember their first visit to the dentist if they were a baby or toddler. We find a great way to help kids adjust is to bring them with you while you have your teeth cleaned and examined. They will be able to observe what the hygienist and the dentist does in your mouth. Allow them the opportunity to ask questions during your appointment.
  • Another way you can help your child adjust is to talk about what a dentist does. Using things such as a small mirror at home to look in their mouth and count their teeth helps make them feel more comfortable when the dentist does it.
  • Leading up to their first appointment, encourage your child to brush their teeth letting them know that their dentist will be excited to see nice clean teeth at their appointment. Tell your child how great their smile is and how their dentist wants to see them smile.
  • Stay away from using phrases such as “Don’t worry, they won’t hurt you”. This places the idea in your child’s mind that it could hurt. Keep things low key and easy going. Kids also tend to do better with morning appointments rather then afternoon.

In the end, your goal is to create a non threatening environment for your child’s first experience at the dentist. You want to help them be excited about taking good care of their teeth which will in turn help them take better care of their whole body.

How to Make Back to School Feel Safe? a Pediatrician Perspective

It is certainly understandable, given the amount of press and official and unofficial commentary through law enforcement, social media discussions, and easily seen news programs, that fear should arise in the minds of both children attending school and parents of those children about their safety in what has traditionally been a bastion of safety, their schools.

This publicly available information, easily seen by children, has always been centered around the person responsible for the shootings occurring in schools and other public places. The information made available in the news media is repeated ad infinitum after the event occurs and only later is there information about the victims.

This public, news-related, policy needs to be changed to include minimal information, if any, about the perpetrator and immediate coverage about the victims and their families.

The American Academy of Pediatrics refers to the situation surrounding school shootings as “a public health threat to children” and has shared their perspective on the general health of the Pediatric population with such statements as: “We can start by working to advance meaningful legislation that keeps children safe….We also call for stronger background checks, solutions addressing firearm trafficking, and encourage safe firearm storage….children and their families (should) have access to appropriate mental health services.”

As a Pediatrician, I absolutely agree with their statements.

This is an issue that should be taken up by the public as a whole, through local involvement in both federal and local government. This is only one method by which fear is spread. The fact that domestic terrorism has occurred at all promotes the initial terror also seen repeatedly on television and written forms of news media in all its gory details. Your child is exposed to this every couple of months in our society. It’s no wonder there is some fear of the school environment.

To balance my professional opinion with my personal experience, I have three grandchildren who live in Connecticut, not far from Newtown where the Sandy Hook killings took place. I am probably biased, but I consider them to be stable, “normal” children, with good, close ties to their parents compared to the general population.

Although there has been no clinical PTSD, they have certainly become more aware and somewhat fearful of their surroundings. I consider the awareness to be a positive result of this episode, as every person in America has become more aware of their surroundings since 9/11. A fact that has possibly contributed to the absence of further attacks of this magnitude having taken place. They have also become much more tolerant and even thankful for the occasional practice drills in their school.

What can be done to decrease and hopefully eliminate such events and fearsome coverage of those events?

  • The ultimate answer to this is involvement by you and your children in local, civic activities. The Federal government can only do so much and every time it tries there is resistance from many sides. The real power lies in local and state governments who can exert a lot of power if supported by their constituency, something that changed in this respect after 9/11.
  • Get involved. There is much improvement possible at the local and state levels, but it must arise from the grassroots. To start, sale and ownership of assault rifles and large magazines capable of carrying large volumes of ammunition should be limited. There is always pushback on this and officials are slow to act as a result. We must push such acts, as statistics do not necessarily show either side to be correct on this issue.
  • You must answer your children’s questions honestly in an age-appropriate format and up-play the quality and determination of those people in their schools who are there to protect them from harm: from teachers to any law enforcement officers in place. If your child can grasp the concept of statistics, you might point out to them that 56 million students attend US elementary and secondary schools, and only a relative handful (159, less than 3/1000 of one percent) have been affected by such school tragedies, and many of these involved single episodes. Try to relate those numbers to things in their personal lives that at that statistical rate they clearly would not be involved.

  • In the extreme, especially if such events have occurred near to your home and school districts, your child might require a short period of counseling. Although child psychiatry services are not readily available in many smaller communities, a parent can ask his/her Pediatrician, the local medical society or the nearest large children’s medical center for such references.

Understand their fear and as parents there will be no trouble empathizing

The bottom line is, as always, good communication with your children is of paramount importance! Never stop talking to your children, keep all the channels open, and you will be greatly rewarded as your children grow to maturity.

What Are The Benefits Of A Well Child Exam?

When you child is acting sick or unusual you are right on top of that and many times that ends in a visit to his/her Pediatrician. Your mind is put at ease (usually), your child may or may not be given medication for the problem, you go home feeling much better about your responsibilities as a parent, and within a short period of time your child is feeling better. But what about all the well child/baby exams that are scheduled for regular intervals: are they really that important? After all they are inconvenient, cost you money and often times you leave your Pediatricians office with information that you knew all the time; your child is healthy.

But what if you were not capable of determining the status of your child’s health; not out of lack of trying or intelligence, but a lack of familiarity with the normal course of things that should take place in your child’s development and growth. In other words, how do you know what you don’t know? Always a difficult question to answer about any issue. In this case there is someone readily available who has had many years of training in order to identify the abnormal among the myriad of normal processes going on at the same time in your child. Not only that but he/she has had the opportunity through many years of practice and observation as a Pediatrician to help identify the subtle factors that many might miss leading one to feel there is a problem there. He/she can then explain in everyday language what the issue is and what can be done about it.

Your Pediatrician is the best source of information about your child and how he/she fits into or out of “normal”. Let’s take, for instance, a major reason for well- baby/child exams, growth and development. You can immediately notice symptoms of a cold with runny nose, cough sneezing and possible some fever, but what do you look for to tell you there is slow down in development or growth? By the time you (as a parent) will notice such subtle issues, these might have been going on for some time, and the first reaction in parents to seeing these is to deny their existence- “not in my child”. This can result in weeks or months of delay in recognition and treatment. Sure you can read everything you come across about childhood growth and development and sure you will begin to pick up the most obvious factors but nothing substitutes for the knowledge your Doctor already has. Not only able to pick up these issues early but to possibly set your mind at ease about things you have noticed and worried about that are really insignificant. He will also keep an exact record of growth in your child to include height, weight, and head circumference (in babies) in order to spot early issues.

There are psychological and behavioral abnormalities that can be seen early in life that can begin to formulate a plan of action as your child grows older and bigger. An observation of family/, and child/physician interaction, can become very important to the trained eye as to “normal” vs out of the range of normal of a child.

Then there is the entire issue of protecting your child from injury and disease through the one on one counseling taking place in the office and the very important use of vaccines as directed by knowledgeable organizations such as American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC in Atlanta. All the vaccines recommended have been tested and retested over a matter of many years before being released for use in children.

As you can seed there are a huge variety of reasons why your child should not miss his/her regular well-child/baby exams, so try to stick with the schedule that is advised by your Pediatrician

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