A baby’s first tooth is something that most parents will always remember! From the way it changes that cute smile to the teething issues it causes, the eruption of a tooth is a pretty big deal. Yet, with all of the other things parents and caregivers must do to care for a baby or toddler, those tiny teeth are often neglected … sometimes with painful results. Today Willows Pediatrics wants to remind you to brush your child’s teeth.
Believe it or not, dentists across the nation report that they are seeing more preschoolers at all income levels with 6 to 10 cavities or more! And recently the Centers for Disease Control found that the number of preschoolers requiring extensive dental work has increased for the first time in forty years. Several factors may be at work here.
The first is too much snacking and the over-consumption of sugary snacks and drinks such as juices or sodas. Parents shouldn’t allow their child to snack or graze constantly. In addition, they should avoid gummy or sticky snacks—even fruit snacks—that can get lodged in the teeth and should be careful when giving their babies and toddlers juice – even watered down juice – in a bottle or a sippy cup, particularly as a means to help the child fall asleep. Dr. Stanley Alexander, chair of pediatric dentistry at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston noted that bedtime drinks are “especially problematic since children’s enamel is thin to begin with, and the mouth’s natural cleaning processes are less active when people sleep.” The same problem occurs when a child falls asleep while breastfeeding. Breast milk contains natural sugars that can erode teeth.
The second factor is a lack of daily dental care. Parents just simply aren’t brushing their children’s teeth twice a day. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s never too early to start brushing your baby’s teeth:
Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. As soon as the teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice daily using fluoridated toothpaste and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Use a slight “smear” of toothpaste to brush the teeth of a child less than 2 years of age. For the 2-5 year old, dispense a “pea-size” amount of toothpaste and perform or assist your child’s tooth brushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively.
Moreover, by the time your child is one year old, he or she should have taken a trip to the dentist. Dr. Jennifer Epstein of Kids First Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics in Fairfield says that the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children establish a “dental home” no later than 12 months of age. The purpose of this is to create an ongoing relationship between the dentist and the patient that is inclusive of all aspects of oral health care in a family-centered way.
According to Dr. Epstein, “The 1 year old visit is an opportunity for new parents to familiarize themselves and their child with a dental office.” She notes that topics typically addressed at the first visit include tooth brushing technique and use of toothpaste (fluoride free), eruption of primary or “baby” teeth, and habits such as thumb sucking and pacifiers. Moreover, the dental hygienist and pediatric dentist also like to use this first visit to discuss a healthy diet. “Infant and child tooth decay is still a prevalent problem in our society,” she says, “so the earlier the discussion about good food choices and limited juice consumption begins, the better the chance children will have of avoiding cavities.”
We hope that all of our patients will take this advice and remember to care for those little pearly whites! Of course, if you have any questions about your child’s oral health, we are more than happy to answer them. We want all of our patients at Willows Pediatrics to have a lifetime of smiles!
Image by MomPOM/Jenn via Flickr.com
With the end of the school year just around the corner, many families are planning vacations and trips. Whether it’s a road trip to Vermont or a vacation to an exotic locale, Willows Pediatrics thinks there are some safety and health issues you should consider before you depart.
We’ve talked before on the blog about car seats and the importance of making sure your child is safely restrained in the car. But what about flying in an airplane? Are young passengers safe in a parent’s lap?
The Federal Aviation Administration just came out with some guidance. According to the FAA “not all safety seats are suitable for use in an aircraft,” so the website offers information about FAA-approved seats and safety devices like harnesses for traveling with kids. The FAA does not require, but strongly encourages the use of safety seats in children under 40 pounds. And we agree. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently wrote about its support of the FAA’s safety education efforts as well.
Another issue that comes up in our practice is infection and “travelers’ diarrhea,” particularly when families travel overseas. According to Infectious Diseases in Children, an estimated 2 million children travel overseas annually, and “when people travel from more industrialized regions of the world to less developed ones, the rates of infection from bacterial-related diarrhea average 40% [whereas the risk is about 4% at home].” The most common source of traveler’s diarrhea is ingestion of fecally contaminated food or water. Willows Pediatrics wants to make sure you know that if your children develop this condition, replacing bodily fluids is one of the main goals. You might want to consider packing oral rehydration solutions like Pedialyte because it helps replace electrolytes lost during bouts of diarrhea. If you are traveling overseas and would like to discuss prevention and treatment of traveler’s diarrhea, please let us know.
Finally, we want to draw your attention to the fact that car seat safety information and guidelines are constantly changing. The 2012 recommendations from the AAP were published this month, and we hope all of our patients with young children will take the time to review them.
As always, if you have any questions, please contact us or schedule an appointment. Have a wonderful summer … and safe travels!
IMAGE via Fotopedia.com
Willows Pediatrics offers non-invasive computerized vision testing for children starting between six and nine months of age and up to the age of four. The test, Enfant Computerized Vision Testing, can diagnose eye and vision problems in pre-verbal children and allows for early treatment of issues ranging from “lazy eye” (amblyopia) to more serious eye diseases.
Recently, Dr. Jeffrey Owens performed the test on a six-month baby girl. The results indicated a possible problem, so she was referred to a specialist and eventually to an ophthalmic oncologist at Yale University. She was diagnosed bilateral retinoblastoma, a rare and serious form of cancer. The good news is that the disease has a high survival rate if treated early.
A video about this case is available for you to view at this link: http://youtu.be/Rx-n2CkGo1g. We hope you will take a few moments to watch it. As you can see, the patient, her parents and all the physicians at Willows Pediatrics are thrilled with the outcome.
As warm weather approaches (rather early this year!), we know that kids will be playing outside. Here in Westport and in the surrounding towns, wooded areas are home to deer … and along with the deer come deer ticks. So Willows Pediatrics thought it would be a good idea to review our recommendations on tick bites and Lyme disease today.
We have an excellent article on tick bites on our blog, and we encourage you to read it thoroughly. In essence, we recommend that parents or caregivers do a daily inspection for ticks. The reason daily checks are important is because we know that a tick must be on the body for 36-48 hours to pass any illness to humans. If a tick is promptly found and removed, Lyme can be prevented.
If you find a tick, remove it using tweezers. (We suggest you purchase a pair of fine-nosed tweezers specifically for this purpose.) Grab the base of the tick against the skin with and steadily pull the tick out. Don’t worry if part of the head, or part of a limb cannot be removed, as the disease-carrying portion of a tick is the abdomen. After removing the tick you can keep the bite area clean with soap and water and apply a topical antibiotic for a few days. Read More
Please Note: Even though head lice may be a nuisance, before checking or treating your child it is helpful to remember they don’t cause serious illness or carry any diseases.
What are head lice?
Head lice are tiny insects. They are about 2 mm to 3 mm long. Their bodies are rectangular shaped and usually pale gray in color. Head lice feed on tiny amounts of blood from the scalp. Lice typically survive less than a day if not on a person’s scalp.
When a child has lice, the first thing you may notice is itching, especially in the nape of the neck or behind the ears. If you look, you will probably see nits – these are tiny white eggs and shell casings that are attached to the hair. Nits are oval or teardrop shaped and attach to the hair via a sticky substance that holds them firmly in place. After the eggs hatch, the empty nits remain attached to the hair shaft until they are physically removed. It is also possible to see lice moving on the scalp, but more commonly parents see the nits first. Read More
One of the questions we are asked fairly often here at Willows Pediatrics is, “when is it appropriate to leave my child home alone?” It’s an interesting topic, and one we will address today.
Most states, like Connecticut, do not have laws regarding a minimum age for a child to be left alone. Here’s what our state has to say about it:
Connecticut law does not specify at what age a child may be left home alone. When deciding whether or not to leave a child home alone, a parent should consider the child’s age. Many experts believe that children should be at least 12 years of age before they are allowed to stay home alone. Experts also believe that children should be over the age of 15 before caring for a younger sibling. Read More
If you’re out of town or can’t make it into Willows Pediatrics when your child gets injured or seems ill, there’s a new online tool for you! HealthyChildren.org has developed a KidsDoc Symptom Checker app that may very well become one of your most-used apps.
We like the app because it offers advice derived from clinical protocols … plus definitions of diseases and decision charts about when to call us or to call 911.
Much of what we do at Willows Pediatrics concerns combating disease and maintaining physical health. Yet there is also a large behavioral and emotional component to being a pediatrician, and we do our best to counsel our patients and their parents as they go through developmental stages and experience life’s challenges.
We’ve read studies reporting that 20-30% of students in school are involved in bullying (either as the bully or the victim), making bullying an issue we would like to address.
Bullying is defined differently in different venues, but one accepted definition is that, “a person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself.” The Westport Public Schools have a detailed bullying policy, which includes punishment for bullying behavior that takes place in school, on school property or at school-sponsored events.
Talking to your child is the most important part of keeping him or her safe. For young children you can play-act a bullying scenario and practice what he or she should say to a bully. It’s important to teach your child to use words like “Please do NOT talk to me like that” and actions like staying calm and knowing when to walk away. It is also important to let your child know that bullying is not his or her fault … and that he or she should not be afraid to ask an adult for help.
For older children, bullying can be more subtle and can also involve Cyberbullying. Since it can be harder to get teens and adolescents to open up, keep alert for changes in your child’s behavior such as frequent headaches, stomachaches, and frequently feeling down. Any of these could be a sign of bullying.
On the flipside, if your child is bullying others, we encourage you to take this very seriously. The AAP has noted that when bullies become adults they are much less successful in their work and family lives, and may even have trouble with the law. It’s best to treat these behaviors when children are young. Some things you can do include:
All of the doctors here at Willows are parents, and we’ve all experienced the jitters and uncertainty that can be part of becoming a parent for the first time. Taking care of newborns can be nerve-racking for sure. But with a little information and good parenting practices, we can help you ensure that your little one will be healthy and happy!
That said, one of new parents’ biggest fears is often sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). That term is applied to infant deaths that cannot be explained. Another term, sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) is used to describe any unexpected death from SIDS or causes such as suffocation, entrapment, arrhythmia and trauma. Today we want to address SIDS and the subset of SUIDs that occur during sleep.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently revised and updated its recommendations to reduce the risk of SIDS and sleep-related suffocation, asphyxia and entrapment in infants. Some, like getting regular prenatal care and voiding smoke, alcohol and drugs during pregnancy, are applicable before the baby is born. The remaining recommendations apply to infants up to one year of age and should be used consistently until your child turns one.
Yes, it’s true: children have tantrums. Virtually every parent will, at some point, have to deal with a very unhappy child who shouts, throw things, or crumples to the floor in tears. The doctors at Willows Pediatrics can offer advice on how to help avoid and control tantrums, and reward good behavior. We are happy to answer questions during your child’s physical exams, or for a more in depth assessment we can schedule a behavioral consultation with you to discuss any concerns you might have about your child and his or her behavior.
Tantrums can range from whining and crying to screaming, kicking, hitting, and breath holding. They are most common during the second year of life when toddlers can understand more language than they can express. A toddler’s frustration at being unable to communicate can be a leading cause of tantrums. Other reasons a child might have a tantrum include being tired or hungry, or seeking attention. Read More