Smile Tips for All Parts of Life from a Mom, Wife, and Dentist

July 30, 2016

8 Oral Care Must Haves for Moms on the Go

It's tough enough just to get out of the house with the kids in order when you're a busy mom. Knowing exactly what you'll need to keep your smile healthy when you're on the go can save you time and keep your breath fresh!  Here's a list of oral care essentials for busy parents. (Note: I included a few extras for the kids!)

1. Your Favorite Toothbrush. If you have your trusted toothbrush handy you're much more likely to use it! After lunch with coworkers or friends, brush away that sugary debris before it has a chance to cause damage. I recommend regular size toothbrushes instead of travel ones because they're easier to manipulate and more effective at removing plaque. Small travel brushes also have shorter life spans and are an extra cost. Savings Tip: Buy your favorite toothbrushes in bulk along with travel cases. Firefly makes kids brushes in fun characters with caps that are ideal for travel.  

2. A Fun Fresh Toothpaste. Most travel size toothpaste are fine but choose one that you can share with the kids to minimize space.  

3. Dental Floss. Those tiny dental floss dispensers are tough to find. Look in the travel section of the oral care aisle or check your dentist "goody bag." The individual flossers are easier to use than the traditional type but may get lost or misplaced. When you're on the move, you want to be able to grab things quickly! 

4. Water Bottle. Fill it up with fluoridated tap water that's been boiled or filtered to remove bacteria. It's not only low on cost and healthy for your teeth but also better for the environment. This is especially recommended for kids as most bottled waters do not have optimal levels of fluoride. 

5. Sugarfree Chewing Gum. Chewing Trident sugarfree gum for 20 minutes after eating has been scientifically proven to fight cavities. When you can't brush right away, chewing gum not only freshens your breath but keeps a healthier environment in your mouth.

6. Lip Moisturizer. Keeping your lips moisturized helps to maintain a good salivary flow, which works against the cavity process. Flavored types like Chapstick or EOS are good choices and Lip Smackers are fun for the kids! 

7. Oral Care Activities. Whether it's a fun App on your mobile device or a storybook, activities that make oral care fun are essential for kids when you're on the go. Our BrightWhites Coloring and Activity Book is perfect for road trips and fun for the whole family!

8. A Sweet Indulgence. Everyone needs a sugar fix! Chocolate melts away easily while chewy candies can stick to your teeth. Keep the kids happy with a pack of M&M's!

July 28, 2016

What's Missing from My Dentist Barbie? [The Answer Might Surprise You]

One of the first things I bought for myself after graduating from dental school was my very own Dentist Barbie. I played with the popular dolls throughout elementary school and I collected Business Barbie, Nigerian Barbie and Pool House Barbie just to name a few. So once I'd officially earned my Penn DMD, I searched eBay to place my bid for Dentist Barbie. 

Mattel had temporarily discontinued the doll about a decade before, but the model I found was still very modern. I was single at the time and going on many first dates. So, I knew how to quickly assess a good match and on first impression, it seemed like Dentist Barbie and I had a lot in common. She had great chairside manner and was excited about oral health. She also looked super qualified with her degree mounted on the wall of her operatory and of course her competence was measured by the lively smile of her young patient.
Barbie even had a couture lab coat, fitted perfectly to her humanly impossible anatomical measurements. I quickly ordered my own set of monogrammed lab coats. I was sure that Dentist Barbie and I would soon enough be best good friends.

However, soon after my lab coats arrived, a series of bad first and second dates followed and I was snatched out of my Barbie Fantasy and returned to my reality as a single professional woman. The months that followed gave me just enough time to practice my new craft and before I knew it Barbie and I had started to grow apart.

Several dates and a few years later, while my husband and I were packing to move to Germany, I found my once coveted Dentist Barbie stashed away in the back of my closet under boxes of high heels that I'd also never found opportunities to show off. She was still packaged and posed perfectly in the box in which she arrived, and I again admired her youth, beauty and the fact that she was unburdened by the many responsibilities carried out by most dentists and especially women dentists. However, while my early excitement about Dentist Barbie had faded, I still wasn't ready to relinquish the idea of this perfect career doll. So, I packed her up with the rest of my goods.

Then, one day as I was discussing my path into dental medicine at the request of one of my patients, I thought of my Dentist Barbie and how my passion to become a dentist was somehow tied to this perfect ideal. That night, when I got home from work, I scoured my closet and found her buried in between my old workout clothes and my dated but most trendy pairs of shoes. Wow---my Dentist Barbie still looked perfect in her box! She hadn't aged a day and surely she hadn't endured the trials of my previous year including pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

I embraced the moment to appreciate flawless Dentist Barbie once again but this time I was even further detached from the Barbie Fantasy and instead fully immersed in my new mommy reality. I was at a desperate time in my breastfeeding timeline when I'd actually gained 12 pounds just to keep up a minimal milk level for my son to indulge as he supplemented with solids. Sure, the early post pregnancy weight had melted away but the unanticipated and unannounced extra bulk felt like punishment for desperately trying to nurse for a whole year. 

Of course, I was just relieved to be making milk and on that note, I must share that it was my Medela Breast Pump that really was the little engine that could---that "one touch let down" feature was a huge benefit. I remember pumping in between patients at work, 3 to 4 times throughout the day as I read texts from my husband about our ever diminishing frozen milk stash and towards the bitter end of almost 13 months, pumping just to meet or son's need. 

Like becoming a Dentist, getting the opportunity to become a mother and to actually breastfeed was almost like a fantasy. My mother nursed me and my three sisters with ease after epidural free labors and advocated that like most things, it too would come naturally. She was super supportive but like walking, riding a bike and studying for my dental degree, I had to do it for and by myself. It wasn't easy, it challenged me to grow in more ways than one and it was even through a storm of fatigue and a barely existent milk supply that I still wanted to produce---just in case my son needed it. Admittedly, it was a bittersweet yet relieving time when my husband and I realized that at 13 months, table milk was what our child desired. This Mommy Dentist could hang up her breast pump.

As I watch my son grow through his toddler years, I still reflect fondly upon my trusty breast pump and from time to time, I check on it just like I do my Dentist Barbie. She may not have matched my own measurements or my reality as a dentist or a mother but she is there as a source of inspiration. It's nice to see her back on the market in a most modern and chic fashion. 

July 22, 2016

Summer Oral Care Tips for Kids

You packed the sunscreen and the sunglasses, but don't forget the summer oral care essentials. Summertime routines are often more relaxed but that doesn't mean your child's oral care should be. Whether you're off to the beach, gearing up for camp or enjoying a much needed staycation, make room for these simple tips to help keep your kiddo's smile bright. 
1. Brush After Each Meal. Summer months means longer days and from the first bite of breakfast to the last crumb of a midnight snack, cavity causing bacteria are using sugars found in the foods we eat to decay our teeth. The best way to interrupt the decay process is to brush our teeth immediately after a meal. 

Tip: Make a game out of these Brushing Breaks and award stickers that your child can display on the calendar to help establish a routine and keep the momentum.     
2. Hydrate With Fluoridated Water. Keeping the kids hydrated is crucial during the hot summer months. Drinking water is essential and fluoridated water can help to repair developing cavities. In the event of juice requests, reach for a low sugar beverage or dilute with water.   

Tip: Fluoride is not always added to bottled water. Instead, replenish your child's sippy cup or water bottle with boiled or filtered tap water.

3. Watch Out For Facial Trauma. Children are constantly on the move. Chasing each other around the kitchen or climbing trees in the backyard can often result in injuries affecting the teeth and should be evaluated by a dentist. In the event of head trauma or severe facial abrasions, be sure to seek medical attention.  

Tip: If your child is participating in an organized sport, be sure to have her fitted with an athletic guard. Sports guards come in many varieties from over the counter to customized by your family dentist and are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
4. Make Oral Care A Part of Summer Fun. Learning how to take care of our teeth, proper diet and nutrition as well as exercise are all components of a healthy lifestyle. Summer is a break from school but learning how to be healthy continues all year. 

Tip: The BrightWhites Fun Coloring and Activity Books are packed with learning aids to help get kids excited about oral health. Order a copy for your child today!     

July 19, 2016

How To Make a LEGO Toothbrush Holder

Before we begin, let me ask you a few questions:

1. Does your child like Legos?
2. Do you find your family has begun collecting the miniature blocks like a group of mini hoarders?
3. Do you discover Lego pieces hidden in every corner of your home, under sofa pillows, behind doors, and in other nooks?
4. Have you lost recollection as to how Legos became a center part of your child's lifestyle? 
5. Are you desperately looking for a way to shrink your child's LEGO collection?

If the answer to any of these questions is YES, keep reading because we have just the Lego fix for you.
Legos are great building blocks for all sorts of things including organizing holders for office supplies, kitchen utensils, and even oral care products. The bright colored plastic bricks are easy to clean and the open design of a toothbrush holding box allows for good ventilation to keep your child's toothbrush dry and away from bacteria.
So what do you need to get started? The LEGO Classic Creative Supplement is a great starting kit for young children. This collection comes with all the pieces necessary to quickly build a sturdy toothbrush holder that will make oral care routine fun for the entire family! I recommend using a square base for the floor of the holder and building the walls with the thin three unit bricks to about a height of 3 to 5 inches. The loose single unit pegs can be space fillers if you find yourself with open slots. 
Finally, as desired you can add dividers or a rim for more detail and that's it! Be sure to always wipe all bathroom furniture down to minimize bacteria collection. Also, toothbrushes should be replaced every 2 to 3 months for best results. Have fun with all those Legos and build your toothbrush holder today and share your pics with us on our Facebook and Twitter!

July 12, 2016

Top Five Things We Love About Highlights High Five Magazine!

It was around Max's 3rd birthday that we received the subscription flyer in the mail for Highlights High Five Magazine. My three sisters and I supremely enjoyed reading Highlights Magazine as children so I knew that I definitely wanted Max to have the same opportunity but I hadn't thought that it would be of interest to him this early on during the toddler years. However, I was enticed by the invitation offer of a FREE Hidden Pictures Calendar with Stickers, so I decided to subscribe and I'm so happy I took the plunge!

Created specifically for preschoolers age 2 to 6, Highlights High Five is craftily tailored to the fun theme of early childhood discovery. From the diverse content featuring characters of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds to the popular puzzles and activities, there are plenty of reasons your family will enjoy Highlights High Five. 

Here are my top 5 favorite things about Highlights High Five:

1. Excellent Reading Content. The story lines not only feature a variety of characters, but even the animals, fruits and vegetables represent different parts of the world. One memorable story followed a family shopping at a Farmer's Market and provided a valuable lesson about diet and nutrition.     

2. Creative Pieces. The sweet and simple poems allow for reflection and heartfelt discussion with your children while the riddles are excellent exercises in problem solving. 

3. Bilingual Story Lines. Coupled with a Free Audio Edition to listen in Spanish, the Read Aloud in English and Spanish texts are perfect pieces for children to become familiar with the norm of dual language cultural environments. This feature is especially encouraging for Max as he hurdles through his vocal building of Serbian and English.  

4. Fun Recipes. Building on the many stories about fresh food markets and family activities, the kid friendly recipes are great tools to get your children interested in cooking as a part of a healthy lifestyle. 

*See the April 2016 Issue for the Avocado Boats Recipe 

5. Free Gifts. As if the FREE Hidden Pictures Fun Booklet that comes with each subscription wasn't enough, Highlights High Five is always offering bonus giveaways like the Hidden Pictures Tote or the Hidden Pictures Summer Coloring Poster that arrived just as Mommy needed a distraction for Max in order to complete some household chores. 

Subscribing to Highlights High Five offers so much more than just a magazine for the kids. It gives you access to the Highlights community, a place for the whole family to have fun and enjoy discovery! What do your kiddos like best about Highlights Magazine? We'd love to hear your feedback. Please feel free to share your stories with us in the comment section below or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter

July 7, 2016

Arm & Hammer Spider-Man Spinbrush Kids Powered Marvel Heroes Toothbrush

"Well, he doesn't like to brush!" This is the most common response that I hear from parents when I inquire about their toddler's toothbrushing habits. Of course, your kid doesn't like to brush! Do you like to brush? I'm a dentist and I sometimes even find the habit taxing.  Oh, and please don't ask about flossing because well, flossing is like punishment. 

I'll tell you a funny story. My youngest sister was a competitive swimmer. She had a wonderful career swimming in college and all around the world. Well, she also had braces for what seemed like an eternity. Real time, she was in wires and brackets for about three years but she was so accustomed to getting the broccoli out from in between her teeth that even after her braces were removed, she remained compulsive about the ritual even to the point of flossing immediately after her races. She'd jump out of the pool like a super hero and even before warming down, she would reach for the floss. It was hilarious! (Click here to find out why we love Reach Waxed Dental Floss).

Back to the topic that kids don't like to brush! Well, let's be honest, they don't even like to eat their dinner even when they have the options of super fun and tasty kid friendly meals. I still chase my three year-old around with a spoon full of rice and veggies, which is particularly challenging when he's climbing the walls like Spider-Man. The good news is that, unlike adults, most kids are easily programmable. However, you have to make the habit fun and the best way to spark enthusiasm about toothbrushing is to get toys involved. 

When it comes to oral care, let your kiddo take charge! Next time you're in the market, take a stroll down the oral care aisle and let him pick out the toothbrush that he likes! The Arm & Hammer Spider-Man Spinbrush is a fun one! From the Marvel Heroes collection, the battery operated brush spins webs just like Spidey! Make your kiddo brush and he'll learn to like it. He might even ask you if you've been flossing. 

Which toothbrush is your child's favorite? Please share your thoughts with us in the comment box below. We love feedback as we strive to put the fun back into brushing and flossing!       

July 4, 2016

Circo Baby Washcloth for Newborn Oral Care

Your new baby may not even have any teeth yet but this is an important time to initiate a good oral care routine. Newborn gums should be wiped with a moist cloth after feedings and before naps.  Although cotton gauze can be used, I recommend a baby washcloth because they are super soft and easy to handle. Target's Circo Brand is a great choice

Always use clean hands and don't forget to wipe under the tongue and inside the cheek because this is where milk collects and bacteria like to hide. Good oral care is an essential part of caring for your newborn and following these steps will help keep her smile bright.

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