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

Last updated on September 2nd, 2019 at 07:47 pm

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.

Childhood Asthma: Part I

Last updated on September 2nd, 2019 at 07:48 pm

Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children and is responsible for more school absences than any other childhood disease in this country. It is a disease with a long history and is surrounded by much misconception and fear. Asthma is constantly being studied in the medical community which leads to new methods of diagnosis and treatment.

What is Asthma?

 Asthma is a disease characterized by repeated, mostly reversible episodes of wheezing. The symptoms of asthma are the end result of a series of reactions occurring in the body set off by a variety of causes. These causes vary from true allergy to specific substances in the air, to emotions, to exercise, to plain old colds. The tendency to develop asthma may very well be an inborn trait present from birth but the final common pathway of observable events remains child with inhalerthe same: the development of small airway narrowing (bronchioles) with a decreased ability to move air in and out of the lungs, slowing down the normal process of exchanging oxygen from the air for carbon dioxide from the body through the lungs. The reasons for this narrowing are related to inflammation in those airways with the production of mucus, and muscle spasm surrounding the airways: all have the effect of narrowing these airways. Oxygen is needed by every cell in the body in order to carry on the process of metabolizing various products that we use every minute of every day.

When the inability to properly exchange these gases is recognized by the body, a series of changes immediately takes place to make the system work better. Because each breath brings in less oxygen, the rate of breathing increases so as to equalize the gas exchange rate. We see that as breathing faster in the child with an asthmatic attack. Since the air that does get in and out must go though narrower airways, a person having an asthma attack must use accessory muscles (such as abdominal and even neck muscles) to help breath, and we see that as working harder to breath, and may even hear it as a whistling sound as the air is forced through narrow spaces (wheezing). Cough is produced as a reflex to the various changes in the airways. As the lack of gas exchange progresses there are further changes that can lead to failure of the lungs to do any of the work.

Needless to say, it is important to recognize the symptoms of asthma and treat vigorously.

How to recognize asthma

Many children will have wheezing during the first two years of life and this is usually part of a viral respiratory infection. This child will usually not have wheezing at any other times. A small percent of these children will develop true asthma over time but at this time it is difficult to tell who they will be. Many children outgrow this type of wheezing and therefore many physicians will withhold labeling a child with “asthma” until at least 2-3 years of age. There is also several other types of “asthma”. Some children with allergies develop wheezing secondary to exercise – or exercise induced asthma (especially in cold weather). Others might just have a persistent cough without wheezing for no apparent reason and might eventually be diagnosed with “cough variant asthma”.

What to do

If your child has already been diagnosed with asthma you will already know most of the information in this article. If your child has had a few previous episodes of “wheezing” or seems to be “wheezing” for the first time and your child’s breathing is not normal (remember the symptoms mentioned above), you will need to call your Doctor for further information and treatment.

What else can be done?

There are many ways to treat the symptoms of asthma and get these under control. There are also many ways to control and prevent the episodes of asthma and therefore the aim of treatment is to relieve and prevent the symptoms, allowing your child to be normally active and to enjoy all the activities of childhood without breathing problems. These treatments are very effective, and the well educated family unit blends with the medical home to produce excellent outcomes and many fewer episodes leading to sickness and missing school.

Note:  Childhood Asthma: Part II will deal more specifically with the diagnosis and treatment of asthma

What You Need to Know About Car Seat Safety? Ask a Fireman

Last updated on September 2nd, 2019 at 07:49 pm

Being a firefighter, I come across a lot of situations that make me shake my head in wonder. The one that my fellow firemen and I continually come across is installing and checking car seats and the many interesting and creative ways people have managed to improperly install a car seat. Whether you are the SUV with a few seats that have been installed for a while, or the new dad sweating on the way to the hospital stopping at the fire station asking the nice firemen to install your brand new seat, there are a few things that need to be taken into account when choosing your car seat and then installing your car seat.

What choice could matter more than that of the one your child is going to be sitting in as you motor around town? Choosing the correct car seat for your new baby or young child requires some homework and label reading.

First there is price. Car seats come in all price ranges, from free at some local fire stations and community organizations to very expensive with extra padding, lights and toys. Just because a seat costs more does not make it a better seat than the one next to it. Check online at places like www.consumerreports.com or www.safekids.org to find out how these seats compare to one another will give you better insight as to the correct choice for you and may even surprise you.

Next is the correct size seat for your child. This is the part about label reading that I mentioned before. Car seats are designed with a specific weight and height in mind for each seat and making sure the seat is the correct size for your specific child maximizes the safety of the seat for your child. Seats that are too big may allow for too much room for movement and seats that are too small may make your child uncomfortable and ultimately unsafe. Car seats should be securely snug but not a tourniquet.

Installation. Having your brand new car seat is wonderful and having it installed correctly is the most important factor of all. Where can I go to have my new car seat installed? There are many places that will correctly install your new car seat by using certified installation experts that have been trained on many different types of vehicles and the important points of each type of vehicle. You may want to call your local fire department or hospital for information on places to go for installation and you can also consult websites like www.safekids.org or the national highway traffic safety administration website http://www.nhtsa.gov to find installation centers in your area and may even find info on installation events going on in your area right now.

If you have any questions about a soon to be purchase of a car seat or the one that is in your car right now, please feel free to stop in at any fire station and ask for a check. We may shake our head but we love knowing your kids are safe.

God Bless!

Little One is on the move!!! Uhhhh….where’s the dog???

Last updated on September 2nd, 2019 at 07:49 pm

Baby Boy Playing with toy as puppy watchesThis is such an exciting time… and an exhausting one. You “safely introduced your dog to your new baby’ and established some guidelines to keep everyone safe (see ‘Your New Baby Safely Met Your Dog … Now What???) and so far everything has been going really well. Your baby is growing by leaps and bounds… and learning something new every day. But just as you started to get the new routine down pat, Mother Nature throws a monkey wrench into this perfect dynamic .Your child’s rate of development seems to be at warp speed, and before you know it, they have learned to crawl. In the blink of an eye they’ve gone from a very slow lobster crawl, to moving faster on hands and knees then you can on two feet! You just can’t seem to catch them! But there is a potential danger here…. The dog can… with ease!

As I did in my last article, I feel it is important to give you some insight into the dog’s mind, and also ask some very thought provoking questions to you, and then offer some ‘canine behavior’ awareness in more detail afterwards.

  1. What is the difference, in a dog’s mind, between a baby that ‘runs’ on all fours, and a pup that does the same thing, other than one has no fur or tail?
  2. How does the dog know the difference between baby’s toys and theirs? Both of their toys seem to be either hard plastic, soft plastic, or plush (stuffed).
  3. What sets off the ‘chase instinct’ in a dog?

So the answer to the first question is pretty obvious…. There is no difference in the dog’s mind. This is why it is so important that YOU teach them that there is a difference. When a pup wanders off, the mother dog picks them up by the scruff (the extra skin) on the back of their necks to bring them back to where they want them. So for this reason, it is important to still monitor their interactions, and make sure they are never alone together.

One of the things I teach my customers with infants is to really accentuate the “DOWN” command whenever they are around the baby. Now I do realize that some people say “DOWN” when a dog jumps on them, but I am referring to them physically lying down. (I often recommend to my customers to use the words “OFF” when a dog jumps, and “DOWN” to lie down, so they do not get confused.) This is especially important for two reasons: To make sure baby doesn’t get knocked over and hurt, but also, it helps to focus your dog. Dogs cannot multi-task; they can’t focus on your command and on the baby at the same time.

To teach “DOWN” first get your dog into a “SIT” position to start. Then, hold a treat between your thumb and pointer fingers, hold your palm facing the floor, and slowly lower your hand towards the floor, keeping the treat right in front of their nose. If they lose interest and look away, bring the treat back up to eye-level to re-capture their attention, and do it again, all the while saying, “DOWN” until they are fully lying down, and then tell them, “YES! GOOD DOWN!” and give them the treat.

I recommend that you practice this often, so when you give him the DOWN command and he is around the baby, he knows the command is not a suggestion or a request, but a direct order from his superior that must be obeyed immediately. To explain the importance of practicing this regularly, I ask my customers, “Why do they run fire drills in schools for the kids?” Because they don’t want to wait until a true emergency actually breaks out and ‘hope’ that the kids will know what to do! Think of how relaxed you will be if you know without a doubt that if you tell your dog ‘DOWN” he will do it immediately.

The second question is a bit trickier, but is important because for most of us, the saying “Possession is 9/10ths of the law” holds true. But to both dogs AND babies, possession is ten-tenths of the law. It can be potentially very dangerous for a baby to see a toy, assume it is theirs, and go to grab it… especially if it is in the dog’s mouth! The simplest solution would seem to be to keep the dog’s toys in one room, and the babies’ toys in another, but in reality, I have never found that to work. The baby goes through house with toys in their hand, and deposits them everywhere and anywhere, and the dog does the same in their mouths. At times, I arrive at a customer’s house, look around at the hundreds of toys scattered everywhere, and wonder if I myself could distinguish which toys belong to which species!

One trick I have given a few families that seems to work very well is to dip the toys belonging to the dog in some bullion soup. (For stuffed animals, just dip a small corner of it. That is sufficient for a dog’s sensitive nose.) This gives it an added flavor that they love, and they tend to play mostly with those. Just remember to wash and re-dip them weekly…. You don’t want them to get stinky or to attract bugs.  Another option is to get a wire rimmed basket for the dog’s toys and a toy chest for your child’s toys. Make sure the right toys go in each basket every night before bed, and get into that routine. When your child is a bit older, and can understand a bit better, (and no longer puts everything in their mouths) you can use a black magic marker to mark your child’s toy.

The final issue… baby moving at warp speed; crawling on all fours, can easily set off the ‘chase instinct’ in your dog. I have two cats. One of my cats is never bothered by the dogs… they never chase him. However, the other one is always being chased. Why is this? Because my male cat does not get nervous or scared by the dogs, and if they look or bark at him, he ignores them… so they leave him alone. My female on the other hand, gets scared and goes to run away… and the same dogs that ignored my male cat, go chasing after her. So how do we combat this? By reinforcing earlier commands with the dog… “GO TO YOUR PLACE” and “DOWN/STAY” are important ones to really enforce, but you can also add a new one: “IGNORE.”

To teach IGNORE, get your dog on a leash, put him in a down/stay position, and have someone roll a ball in front of him. If he goes to give chase, give a quick and firm tug on the leash and say, “IGNORE”. Do this a few times until he is completely non-reactive, and then either treat and praise, or play and praise with one of HIS toys. (I want to point out that at this point your baby is copying everything you do… so please remember, you’re “rolling the ball” to the dog… not throwing it. The last thing you want are items going airborne at your dog!)

In the end, adding a few new commands to your dog’s routine (and a few new tricks for you to try) is a great way to both make sure he behaves appropriately around your little one, and also make sure he continues to get the attention and mental stimulation he needs.  Happy dog…happy baby…safe home.

So I will wrap this post up a bit differently from my last ones… and ask your input. Apparently, I stumped some of the best trainers in the world by asking for their input on how they go about distinguishing a kid’s toy from a dog’s. So I would love to hear from those of you who have raised your kids (and your dogs) already through this stage…how did you successfully keep the toys separate???