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Sweets for Kids at the Holidays? What Dentist Approved That?

Last updated on December 31st, 2018 at 02:06 pm

Now that the holiday season is in full force, you’ve probably noticed an increased availability of sweets everywhere you turn. Your child’s teacher asks for everyone to bring a candy to exchange, the dance recital serves punch and cookies afterward, and don’t forget the homemade fudge at Grandma’s house.

Is it possible to prevent dental problems for your little one during the Christmas season? Yes. The key is “everything in moderation,” along with some important advice from your child’s dentist!

Limit the Candy Canes

Sucking on a hard candy cane for a half hour or more means constant sugar exposure on your child’s teeth. Of course, you don’t want to be the one to throw them out completely. For a happy compromise, limit them to no more than a few candy canes per week (just during the holiday season, of course) or purchase the smaller ones instead. 

Soft Sweets are Better on the Teeth

If you’re at a holiday party and your little one wants to indulge, steer them toward the cookies, as opposed to the baklava or brittle. A softer, less-sticky food won’t “hang out” in the deep grooves of the back teeth for hours on end.

Stuff Their Stocking with Xylitol

Gums and candies with Xylitol as the primary sweetener can actually limit plaque and acid levels inside of your child’s mouth, reducing their risk of tooth decay. If you’re out and about without access to a toothbrush — and you know your child has just enjoyed a plethora of holiday goodies — keep Xylitol gum on hand to at least counter-act some of the sugary acids that their teeth have just been exposed to.

Drink Lots of Water

Encourage your child to have a refillable bottle of tap water in their backpack or as they snack throughout the weekend. Tap water contains regulated fluoride levels and the pure H2O rinses away acids after meals.

Up Your Child’s Fluoride…at Least Temporarily

Now is a good time to pick up a bottle of fluoridated mouthwash for your child to use before bedtime each night. An over the counter rinse is fine. Brush and floss first, have her rinse, then don’t eat or drink anything else before bed. Fluoride remineralizes weak areas that may be compromised from sugary sweets during the daytime.

If your child hasn’t seen a dentist in the last six months, now is a great opportunity (especially before your end of the year dental benefits expire). Regular checkups promote healthy smiles and eliminate the risk of toothaches during the holidays!

The Best 3 Holiday Gifts for Families with Allergies

Last updated on December 27th, 2018 at 12:24 pm

Each year, many of us are stressed during the holidays trying to figure out what to get for others. When a person has allergies, this can make it even trickier to find a gift that will also keep them safe. The last thing that anyone strives to do is to give a gift that will be linked to a negative memory. Holidays are very often focused on food however; a gift can be many things. This year, why not think beyond what we can share on our plate. Here are my top three holiday picks that are all allergy-friendly, budget-friendly and even come with a mission to help others:

  1. Veta Smart Case & App This is, in my opinion, allergy worries meets digital technology. This device reminds those with food allergies to bring their auto injectors with them. Utilizing Bluetooth technology, these electronic cases offer immediate notifications whenever the person who should be carrying epinephrine forgets it, goes too far without it, has it in the wrong temperature and more. It’s like having someone following you around, tapping you on the shoulder and telling you that you need to make sure your epinephrine is  cared for to keep yourself prepared. The Veta Smart Case app has the ability to set up multiple user profiles to strengthen your support circle and it even has a visual aid to help someone administer epinephrine if it is needed. The Veta Smart Case can be found on Amazon . This is a gift that will allow those with food allergies to LIVE with food allergies.
  2. Land of Not Having food allergies can make us forget the positive side of life. This book is one of the newest ways to share your passion for helping while teaching children that food allergies is not about who they are with the allergy, but rather who they can be with the allergy. This book is part of a national campaign to raise food allergy awareness, bring people together while they are reading and learning and includes a mission to share this book in schools everywhere. The book is subtly humorous in its setup while being very kid-friendly, making it a must-have for people of all ages. Purchase a book to donate at a school near you, read it in your child’s class or keep a copy for your personal library. You can order Land of Not right on the Land of Can Whichever you decide, this book is an amazing gift option that will be perfect for reading together.
  3. Backpack Health – Because so many of us are spending more and more of our time on electronic devices, why not put all of what we really need at our fingertips? Think of this app as your health empowering you to have all of your medical history in one spot while also having the ability to engage in true to life research for multiple health issues. Backpack Health gives you the ability to download all of your personal health information while also doing the same for anyone else in your family that you would like to include. Simply put “Your health information belongs to you. You have a legal right to it, and that means with the right tools, you can make the most out of your own health narrative. Our goal is to help you do just that.” The Backpack Health app offers multiple languages to ease the stress of trying to translate health concerns while traveling and empowers it’s users to take control of their health. This user-friendly app can be found at the App Store , Google Play or directly on their website. Helping yourself while helping others each and every day is the greatest gift of all.

Whichever item you choose to share this season, all of them offer the same mission for those with allergies- be prepared.

Study after study has shown that being prepared is the first line of defense. Stand up for your allergies, stand up for the right to know how to have the upper hand for situations before they happen and embrace anyone that is willing to lend you a helping hand in doing this. Nobody asks to be given allergies but everyone asks how they can make their weakness into strength. All you need are the right tools and someone who offers them to you.

Why You Should Not Give Milk to a Child on an Antibiotic

Last updated on December 31st, 2018 at 02:07 pm

For any drug or medication to be effective it must reach the gastrointestinal tract where it will be absorbed through the stomach or intestinal lining and enters the blood stream.  It then circulates in the bloodstream to get to the site where it can affect the infection or other issue for which it is being used, in the right concentration to be maximally effective.  If this process is interrupted or altered in any way the effectiveness of the medication may also be altered and therefore the infection might not be treated adequately.

First of all, the medication (antibiotic) must be in the effective chemical form to enter the gastrointestinal tract and be absorbed, and so most medicines are combined with a chemical to aid in ingestion and absorption.  Children obviously have problems with pill form medications and therefore liquid preparations have been developed for just about any medications.  If that medication causes nausea and/or vomiting the chain is broken and adequate delivery of the antibiotic cannot be established.  One must also be aware of the local climate in the stomach and intestines; any variety in the acidity or other factors can alter the absorption of the medication. If there is disease process affecting the lining of the stomach or intestines such as malabsorption, short bowel syndrome after certain surgeries, acid reflux disease, hyperacidity, and other issues, this may also affect absorption of medications. Any food or fluid taken with a medication may alter the effectiveness of the medicine and therefore it is very important to follow directions on the prescription bottle placed there by the pharmacist, the expert in such matters.

This brings me to the topic at hand today:

Because of the calcium content of certain foods, and because calcium can bind to certain medicines making them more or less effective, there are certain antibiotics that should absolutely not be taken with milk, cheese or other milk products. 

Tetracycline (doxycycline and other forms) can be deactivated or inactivated by concurrent ingestion of these milk products.  To some extent some other antibiotics may also be affected by milk, etc. so it is again very important to follow the pharmacist’s directions; ask any questions you may have regarding these directions because occasionally taking some antibiotics along with food can enhance the absorption.

Just to be absolutely clear – before you leave the pharmacy, ask your pharmacist the following two questions: “should this be taken with food?  Does my child need to avoid milk products while taking this?”

The Techniques of a Predator: Part II – Bribery and Threats

Last updated on December 27th, 2018 at 12:25 pm

In The Techniques of a Predator: Part I we discussed how online predators groom children for both online and offline sexual attacks using trust and romance to manipulate them.  Now, we will conclude this discussion by talking about how predators can use bribery and threats as well and we will give you additional ways to protect your children. 


Here, predators offer gifts to the other person in exchange for getting what they want.  This often takes the form of gift cards that can be redeemed online. For younger victims, gift cards to Google Play or iOS App Store are popular.  For older children, Amazon gift cards are popular, as are those to gaming platforms. They are easily obtained and the redemption codes can be sent via text or by taking a picture of the card’s unique code. They can also be difficult to trace, especially when bought in a store and sent as a picture.

Similar to the stereotypical drug dealer exchange, the first “gift” may be provided for free.  After that, the predator suggests that since they did something for the victim, then the victim should do something in return before they give them another gift.


Once an intimate image is sent, it is easily used as leverage to get more.  However, another type of threat is becoming more common. In this case, a predator takes their time to groom their target over an extended period of time.  All during this time, there is nothing done or said that could be construed as troubling. Everything seems safe and risk-free.

During this time, the predator is learning about their target through seemingly innocent conversation, asking questions such as:

  • “Where do you go to school?”
  • “Where do you live?”
  • “Do you have any brothers or sisters?”

Depending on the app being used, their privacy settings, and if they’ve actually friended/connected this person, the predator has complete access to everything they’ve posted.  They can see who their friends and family member are through their Facebook profile, for example. They can see who they follow on Instagram and who follows them. They can see who they’ve tagged in images and who has tagged them.

This all leads up to the predator threatening to physically hurt the people that their victim knows if they do not send pictures or videos to the predator. Scared and not sure whom to trust, minors often send the pictures to protect their family and friends. This only makes the situation worse, leading to more cases of sextortion.

In the case of Ashley Reynolds, she was contacted by a man who said that he had naked photos of her and would send them to her friends if she didn’t send him more pictures. Ashley was confident that nobody had such pictures of her like that, as she’d never sent any pics like that to anyone. She was 14 at the time.

Even if the images were not of her though, Ashley worried that people would not believe her if she denied it. Doubting herself, she yielded to his demands, which led to months of anguish, until her parents found out what was happening. She was sending as many as 60 pictures per day to her attacker. Eventually, her attacker made a mistake that led to his arrest. According to the FBI, he was a 31 year old man from Florida, with over 80,000 images on his computer from 350 girls, across 26 states, Canada and the U.K.  He was sentenced to 105 years in prison for his crimes.

Had Ashley never sent the image to her attacker, she could very well have gotten through the situation, even if he had followed through on his threat to send pictures that were reportedly of her.  By giving in, the opened the door to not being able to deny the pictures were of her.

How You Can Protect Your Family

Talk to your child about how sharing intimate photos online can affect them.

Parents need to discuss the realities of what can happen if such images ever make it to the Internet.  One of those realities is that the images may never go away. They become part of their Digital Footprint – the impressions left behind long after the person does something online.

Wisdom comes with time, something that by their very nature, children lack.

Parents need to have “the talk” with their kids earlier than they expect to about what is acceptable and responsible with regards to online behavior.  This may be more difficult to do than some parents would expect.

In the world where kids feel like they have to send such pictures or feel that it’s no big deal to show off their bodies, a “scared straight” approach might be what it takes to get through to them.

In Shame Nation, the Global Epidemic of Online Hate, the authors interviewed people involving a case coming from an affluent town in Massachusetts. Using Dropbox, an online storage site for file sharing, several high school boys reportedly starting posting intimate images of girls from the school.  Even after the story broke, girls continued to send pictures to boys, knowing that they would likely end up on the site. They considered it an honor, with one mother saying, “It was a bit of a beauty contest… Some are mortified, some are proud.”

Encourage them to consider who could see what they share online.

In business classes that I teach, we discuss the Four P’s of Marketing.   I took that approach and turned it into the Four P’s of Social Media:

  1. Parents (or other family members)
  2. Principal (or employer)
  3. Police
  4. Predator

Everyone should consider how they’d feel if any of the Four P’s of Social Media saw what people did online.  Parents need to discuss what is acceptable and unacceptable to do online with their children – probably far earlier than they expect to have to do so.

Understand how important it is that you talk to your child about sex and consent.

Last year, I gave a presentation to all of the principals and guidance counselors in my own district’s schools.  This originated after a district administrator noticed an increase in sexting at the grade school level! Even before that, when our daughter was in third grade, a classmate announced that she posts inappropriate pictures of herself on Instagram.  It turned out to be not true in this case, but that statement was a cry for attention. A cry for help!

As Dr. Mary Anne Franks, the tech policy director at the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative explains, “Parents have to be willing to talk to their children about sex and the importance of sexual consent. Otherwise, they leave children to learn about sex from peers, porn, and predators.” When we choose to teach them about sex ourselves, we can limit the sexual influences of other people and teach them how to deal with pressure from outside sources, like predators.

Whether parents like it or not, sexting is the new norm for this generation.  Forbidding them from doing it won’t stop them. If that were the case, children would always do as their told.  Is that the way it works? In most homes, the answer is no. Some treat sexting as comparable to dating – before their parents will actually let them go out on a date.  Others see it as “getting to first base”.

The old saying, “Do as I say, not as I do,” is no longer acceptable.

Be a role model.

Additionally, parents need to realize that they are role models to their kids 24/7.  When they see adults or older siblings do things, they expect that it’s acceptable behavior and will not realize it may not be good for them. In a new study that just came out from the founders of the Cyberbullying Research Center, boys, not girls, were more likely to be targeted for sextortion.  This surprised them and would probably shock many parents, who tend to think more about protecting girls from online sexual predators.

In conclusion, by speaking to our children clearly and openly about sexuality and online dangers, we give them the knowledge they need to make healthier decisions. And when we begin the dialogue with them, they are more likely to be open with us when they are facing a questionable situation.

Prevention here is not worth an ounce of cure.  It’s worth an immeasurable amount of cure!

Dog Acting Strange? Change Affects Every Member of the Family

Last updated on December 10th, 2018 at 06:28 pm

As a professional dog trainer, I have worked with hundreds of dogs over the years…. I have studied all of the different breeds, studied different methods of training, worked with different families, and have come to realize one universal truth…dogs are as bad with change as we are. Why does that matter????

I want you to imagine that you live in a world that is black or white – and I am not referring to color, I am meaning it in the sense of all-or-nothing – cause and effect – action equals reaction. A world that is built around routine and structure. Think about a young child that does not yet know how to read a clock… they nap approximately the same time every day, and eat around the same time every day, so what happens when you are out, and those things get delayed? It could be fun-central, and still all of a sudden you have a very cranky child on your hands! Why? Because their bodies instinctively tell them what they need and are lacking at that time. It doesn’t adjust instantaneously to change. I will also add that at a very young age, they lack the cognitive ability to understand the concept of ‘it is coming, it is just delayed.’

It is the same with pups… with one exception.  With a child, the heightened state of confusion leads to a very cranky child.  The situation is very easy to read, usually pretty easy to resolve and for the most part, relatively harmless. It’s not always so simple with your dog. And because of this, it has the potential to escalate to a situation that’s not as harmless…and that leads me to why I’m writing this…

To enable you to best understand this, I need to give you a very brief overview of canine psychology and dynamics… why dogs do what they do. To start with, dogs rely very heavily on instinct. Since they do not communicate verbally, they also rely on reading body language. Since dogs run in packs, the order of hierarchy is a very important fundamental ‘rule’ they live by, and the pack leader earns their place by gaining the respect of the pack. In the wild, following a strong pack leader will keep them alive, a weak pack member can get them killed. Consistency is key.

Change leads to confusion which leads to insecurity…and that will get them killed.

Now that you hopefully have a better understanding of how your dog sees the world, maybe you can understand a bit better why any change to your dog’s routine, no matter how big or small, can throw everything out of whack for them! Oftentimes the changes that are happening in our lives are positive, but your dog cannot understand that. Some examples:

  • A New job: Pay and hours are much better for you, but to your dog, all it means is mealtimes, ‘out’ times, bedtimes, and many other things in their daily routine have gotten disrupted.
  • Moving: Think about how stressful this is for us…. Even when it is a positive, new and exciting thing, the packing, the moving, the re-organizing…. Its stressful! But at least when you see a toilet, you know where to go!! The yard or area where they have pottied is now gone and replaced with unfamiliar territory and scents. Furniture is all in different places, including their food and water dishes!
  • A New Person in the house: Whether it is a new relationship, a new baby, a relative staying with you, child leaving for college or coming to live back home.

As a trainer, when I get a phone call for a dog who was previously housebroken, but is suddenly having accidents, or a dog that was always friendly and outgoing suddenly cowering or hiding or growling, a dog that has suddenly become destructive of personal property when the owners leave, there are always two questions I ask first:

  1. Are there or could there be any medical issues? Have you seen your vet for a full exam? This is a very important first question because we must always remember that our animals cannot verbalize when something is wrong, so sometimes we must rule out any potential medical issues (such as if your dog is suddenly having accidents, could there be a Urinary Tract Infection? Or if they are growling or suddenly snapping, they may have an ear infection or an injured limb that is hurting them.) If the answer is there are no medical issues, I always ask:
  2. What has changed in the household? Sometimes the slightest things have turned out to be the cause…. their food dishes were moved, their crate was put in a different spot… and sometimes it is more major… relationship difficulties (more fighting in the house, doors being slammed) Someone in the house is depressed or anxious, or their primary care-taker is sick or injured… all these things can have a major impact on your dog.

Remember “change leads to confusion which leads to insecurity…and that will get them killed”.  In your household, your dog needs a way to deal with that insecurity, and your children, clearly not the strong pack leader that will keep then alive, can become the unexpected target. A dog who is scared, nervous, frightened or insecure will instinctively go into a ‘fight or flight’ mode; they may not be physically trapped, but mentally, they may still feel that way…. and more often than not, will strike out at whoever is closest, even well-meaning family members who are only trying to help them.

So because changes in life are inevitable, how do we help the dog work through it, thereby keeping our family and kids safe? Here are some suggestions I can give you to help them through this:

  • Know your dog so you know when something is wrong. The best way to accomplish this is by doing short daily training sessions with them. This will tell you so much about your dog’s personality…. Is he relaxed and easy-going? Take direction well? Eager to please? Is he stubborn? A bit hard-headed? Is he treat-motivated? Toy motivated? Affection-motivated? Easily excitable? Do you have to really work to gain his interest and/or trust? Having this kind of base-line on his personality will help to alert you quickly if something is “off” or changing in him.
  • Keep mealtimes short and consistent. Regardless how many times a day your pup or dog eats, you should refrain from allowing them to ‘graze’ all day. Put the food out for 15 minutes…. If they do not eat, pick it up and try again at the next meal time. Remember, a dog is an instinctual animal…. They will not allow themselves to starve to death! When they are hungry enough, they will eat… but in the process they will learn to eat when the food goes down or it will be gone. This is important because when a dog is not feeling well, or something is wrong, oftentimes they will not want to eat. Dumping food in their dish whenever you notice it empty may prolong your awareness of something being wrong.
  • When able to, try to make changes slowly. Need to move their food dish? Do it in increments until it is in the new spot. Moving to a new house, bring the dog by a few times prior to the move to let them acclimate. Going back to work? Slowly get them into the new routine before the event takes place.
  • Make sure your dog has plenty of ‘down-time’ Pick a place (whether it be a crate, a mat, a blanket, a towel, etc) and allow them to just rest. A dog with no ‘off’ switch is in a constant state of alert and excitability… which can make for a very reactive dog! Give that space a name (I use “PLACE”) and make sure everyone in the family knows he is to be left alone when in his quiet time place.
  • Work with each other, not against each other…. Be a unified team with your dog. Remember I spoke earlier about the hierarchy and respect of the pack leader? When I am working for the first time with an aggressive dog, I tell the family I need them to hand me the leash and step back and let me do what I need to do. The reason I do this is because if the family steps in to ‘rescue’ either one of us, I have lost the opportunity to gain the dog’s respect… and the dog will therefore not respect or accept my authority. Similarly, if you ‘override’ each other’s directions and commands while one person is working with the dog, the dog will pick up on that and also not respect that person.
  • Always supervise your kids around the dog! I consider myself a pretty happy and easy-going person, but even I have my bad days when I want to bite everyone’s head off!! Your kids are not going to be as proficient at reading your dog’s subtle body language changes as you are!

In closing, I will also add that your dog may not be the only one having difficulty with some of these household changes…., A toddler may have trouble adjusting to day care, A child going from elementary school to middle school or high school may have difficulty making the transition, and a child of any age may have trouble accepting a stay-at-home parent going back to work. But awareness is the key. Just like you will notice a subtle ‘shift’ in your child’s typical personality, you can be just as aware of your dog.

Keep everyone safe by making adjusting to change a team effort.

To Our Wonderful Readers…Thank You and Happy Thanksgiving!

PedSafe girls Square Button FinalThere are so many things we’re grateful for…but being part of your lives, day in and day out is one we’re especially proud of.

Our mission is simple: to do whatever we can to make this world a healthier and safer place for kids to grow up in…and as best as possible, to help keep the “ouches” – even the ones you can’t see – to a minimum.  To do that we support parents, and caregivers and teachers and medical professionals and anyone else who shares that mission.  If you’re here reading this – it means we’re doing something right.

Now it’s our turn to say thank you – to each and every one of you who is looking after a child – whether it’s your child or someone else’s – thank you for everything you do to keep them healthy and safe.

From all of us here at Pediatric Safety, have a wonderful Thanksgiving