Keeping Your Child’s Smile Healthy

February 01, 2020

Seeing your child smile is a great feeling. Keeping that smile healthy can take some work. Children’s dental health can be easy to overlook, but the truth is it’s essential to their overall wellbeing. Pain or infections caused by tooth decay can lead to serious physical and mental complications down the road. Check out these helpful facts and tips to keep your child, and their mouth, feeling good. 


A Mouthful of Facts
AltaMed small boy with dark hair smiling showing his teeth

  • Cavities (tooth decay) are one of the most common chronic childhood conditions in the United States.
  • Roughly 20% of children ages 5 through 11 has at least one untreated cavity. 
  • Tooth decay can cause extreme discomfort or disease that could lead to difficulty eating, speaking, and learning. 
  •  69% of Americans get fluoride through local drinking water, which can help protect teeth. Most bottled waters do not contain fluoride. 

 

First Steps: Dealing with Baby Teeth
AltaMed baby showing two small teeth


It’s important to begin monitoring your infant’s teeth as soon as they come in. Check for consistency in coloring and alert a dentist if you notice any stains or spots. Clean with a soft washcloth or baby-specific toothbrush. Around the age of two, you can begin using a regular, fluoride toothpaste. Check out some more quick pointers for keeping their first set of teeth in tip-top shape:

  • Avoid leaving your baby with a bottle at night or during naptime.
  • Never cover pacifiers with sugary substances like honey. 
  • Start healthy habits early by skipping sugary drinks and juices and go for water instead. This is a great way to help fight childhood obesity, too.
  • Around their first birthday, teach your child how to drink from an open cup.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends scheduling your child’s first visit to the dentist once their first tooth appears, or no later than their first birthday. 


Tooth Care for Tots, Teens, and Everyone in Between
AltaMed tween boy in white shirt brushing teeth


Once their adult teeth start coming in, children should start caring for their teeth like adults, too. Establishing a routine will make it easier for them to remember and learn lifelong healthy habits.

  • Brush with Fluoride Toothpaste

  The National Institute of Health recommends using toothpaste with fluoride for best results. Studies have shown that fluoride toothpaste is 33% more effective at preventing tooth decay. Dentists recommend brushing for a full two minutes, alternating between different areas of the mouth. It’s important to supervise your child’s brushing habits until they are old enough to brush on their own. 

  • Be Consistent

Children should brush their teeth after every meal to remove potentially harmful bacteria. At a minimum, kids should brush in the morning before school and at night before bedtime. 

  • Floss

While brushing will help get rid of food buildup on the surface of their teeth, be sure to have you children floss in the evening as well. Flossing will clean the hard-to-reach areas between teeth and at the start of the gum line, removing plaque before it becomes harmful. Flossing is recommended for everybody from young children to teenagers.  

  • Visit the Dentist

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, most children need two scheduled checkups per year to maintain a healthy smile. Can’t remember the last time your child visited the dentist? It may be time to pick up the phone. 

  • Avoid Whitening Toothpaste

A shiny, white set of teeth may sound ideal, but don’t risk your child’s health trying to get them. Many active whitening toothpastes contain harmful chemicals that can wear down enamel (your teeth’s protective outer layer). Be sure to stick with regular, fluoride toothpaste instead. 

  • Don’t Ignore Warning Signs

If your child begins to experience any unusual pain, such as a toothache, seek professional help as soon as possible. Strong discomfort can often signal an infection which may spread to the jaw, neck, or head. 


Don’t Forget to Smile!
AltaMed Small girl with curls smiling showing teeth


By following these steps, you can rest easy knowing your child’s smile is happy and healthy. If you’re not sure of the last time you or your children went to the dentist, schedule an appointment at AltaMed. Our dental offices are conveniently located inside the same locations that provides medical care, women’s health services, and all the other care you and your family need to grow healthy. Find one today


 

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Prenatal Care is Good for Moms and for Babies

November 07, 2018

Even in this modern day and age, the ability to grow a little human being inside you is still magical. 

Whether you’re having your first baby or your fourth, getting care early can help you have a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery. 
 

Start Before You’re Even Pregnant!
couple on bed

If you’re thinking about becoming pregnant, ask your doctor about a preconception visit. The preconception visit focuses on your health history and habits, with the goal of giving you personalized nutrition and lifestyle recommendations so you have the best chance for an easy, carefree pregnancy. 

At the preconception visit, you should tell your doctor about any prescription drugs or herbal remedies you’re taking. If you have a health condition like diabetes or high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend certain foods and vitamins and getting your condition under control before you start trying to have a baby. 

Before you even see a doctor, here are a few good health tips to follow:

  • Most women should start taking a folic acid supplement at least one month before you start trying to get pregnant. Folic acid can help prevent birth defects of the brain stem or spinal cord.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • With your doctor’s approval, get regular exercise.
  • Excessive caffeine and consumption of alcohol, cigarettes, and use of illegal substances can hurt your chances of conception and are harmful to the baby during pregnancy. 
  • Avoid exposure to substances like lead and radiation.

Once You’re Pregnant
sonogram

Even if you’re not sure you’re pregnant, visit your doctor. Prenatal care can drastically reduce your risk of complications, which is why it’s important to see your doctor on a regular basis. 

Prenatal visits usually include a physical exam, weight checks, and having your urine checked. Depending on the stage of the pregnancy, your doctor may also check your blood and perform imaging tests, such as ultrasound exams, to check on your baby’s health. 

Prenatal visits are your time to ask questions about your pregnancy. Make notes as you think of them and bring them in – no question is too small, especially when it comes to the health of you and your baby.

AltaMed is Here for You!
prenatal class

AltaMed offers moms-to-be services that support their physical and mental wellbeing. Your doctor can tell you which services are appropriate for you.

  • Regular and frequent checkups, the whole time you’re pregnant
  • Classes and one-on-one information about pregnancy, childbirth, baby care, and breastfeeding 
  • How to apply for financial help and resources such as Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, and WIC
  • Help with cutting down or quitting smoking, drinking, or using drugs
  • Counseling on problems or family issues you may have
  • Referral to community agencies that can provide additional help and services


From even before you get pregnant, all through your pregnancy, delivery, and after, AltaMed is dedicated to helping your baby grow up, healthy and strong. We want to be your first stop, and your first choice, for your entire family.
 

Continue the Fight Against Childhood Obesity

September 01, 2017

Now that school is in full swing, AltaMed wants to ensure your child is consuming the right foods to remain happy and healthy in the classroom. Whether it’s playing games with their classmates or dedicating time to complete homework, we always want to ensure our children make the right choices. This includes making the right decisions for their health, as childhood obesity is a problem within the United States.

September is National Childhood Obesity Prevention Month and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in five school-aged children (ages 6-19) have obesity. Childhood obesity has immediate and long-term effects on physical, social and emotional health of children. Including:

  • Health conditions and diseases such as asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, type 2 diabetes and risk factors for heart disease.
  • Chances of being bullied or teased, as well as social isolation, depression and lower self-esteem.
  • Possibility of being obese as an adult

Here are a few ways to ensure your child is receiving the proper exercise and nutrients to live a healthy life.

  • Be Active: It’s hard to pull your child away from their beloved video games and cell phones, but sometimes they need to enjoy the fresh air! Take your child to the park and let them explore. This provides the opportunity to release some built-up energy and reduce stress levels. This also is a way for children to meet new friends and practice their social skills, face-to-face.
  • Encourage Healthy Eating Habits: We all know that children are tempted by junk food. Give your child snacks filled with fiber and nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables and nuts. Try carrots and hummus dip, celery or apples and peanut butter, or even frozen grapes (which is a yummy snack for the summer and fall).
  • Be a Role Model: Show your children that physical activity and healthy eating habits have great benefits like strengthening bones, decreasing blood pressure and increasing self-esteem. Go outside and play soccer or basketball with them. You can even do something not so competitive, like play jump rope or hula-hoop!

AltaMed takes childhood obesity seriously, which is why we will continue beyond September to find the education and resources to help improve our community members’ lives. We have programs such as STOMP to empower children (ages 2-18) and their families to set healthy habits. Additionally, AltaMed participates in the Healthy Communities, Healthy Lives initiative, which encourages local businesses and grocery stores to provide healthy options to their customers.