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Getting Your Smile Ready for School

Starting up a new school year can be exciting for kids, and a welcome relief for parents.

You’re prepared. You’ve dusted off the old back pack (or purchased a new one), picked up a few school supplies, shopped for a new outfit or two, and shared in the anticipation with your child about the coming year. If you still don’t think you’re 100% ready, here are items you’ll want to check off your list:


Connect with other parents. If you haven’t already done so, find out who’s in your child’s class this year. Get the skinny on the new teacher. Arrange a school carpool. It will clear up the unknowns, and those contacts will be a big help throughout the year.


Establish a routine. That includes bedtime. If your kids have been staying up late every night in the summer, it will be tough getting to sleep the night before school starts. Try an hour of quiet time before bed – without electronics or cell phone use – or quiet reading to wind down. Lay out clothes the night before, have breakfast planned and ready to go (simple, but nutritious, is best for time-strapped parents), so that the kids will be ready for carpool or the bus.  Have a nutritious snack ready when your child gets home. And make homework a priority – with limits on video games and television viewing.


Get the kids checked out.  Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease — five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever in 5- to 17-year-olds, according to the California Health Care Foundation. Make a dental appointment for an exam (it’s covered by most insurance plans, along with two cleanings per year.) And, if your child plays sports, they will most likely be required to have a physical exam before the first practice. Most schools require up-to-date immunizations, and you may be asked to provide paperwork showing that your child has all the necessary shots and vaccines.


Be proactive about protection. Speaking of sports, football and soccer season is a great way to let off steam, as long as it’s safe. Mouthguards, or mouth protectors, are a must for contact sports and should be a part of your child’s standard athletic equipment from an early age. (They make sense for non-contact sports as well, like gymnastics and skating.) Mouthguards help prevent injuries, including the loss of teeth, and can be purchased at the drugstore or sporting goods store, or at the dentist office. Your dentist can recommend the best option for you.


Meal prep for school.  Performing well in school is harder when you’re hungry. Make sure your child has a healthy breakfast and that you have a plan for lunch, including meal tickets or lunch money. (Many children qualify for free or reduced price on food at school, including breakfast. Check with your school office.) If a cafeteria lunch isn’t an option for your child, pack a nutritious meal for them. Include healthy items like cheese sticks, celery and fruit, and avoid sugary foods.

Back to school time can be hectic for everyone, but with a little organization you’ll all settle into a rhythm that will feel natural in no time.



My Perio Protect Journey, Part 2
I arrived at the Western Dental office in Hawthorne, California for a dental check-up. Being a new patient and a member of the Western Dental Plan, my exam and x-rays were free of charge. The main purpose of my visit, though, was to begin the Perio Protect program. Dental appointments can give me a twinge of anxiety, but the staff at the office made me feel calm and welcome. The first step of the process was getting a thorough set of digital x-rays from a very friendly and efficient x-ray technician (I was done in about five minutes). They needed those to build my file and to make sure I didn’t have any hidden problems before starting Perio Protect. But all looked good. Next was a teeth cleaning. The hygienist went to work on my teeth, cleaning, polishing and checking the depth of the gum “pockets” around each tooth. Anything over 3 millimeters, she explained, indicated warning signs of possible periodontal disease, or at the least, gingivitis (a milder form of the disease). I checked out ok, except for a few “4’s” around the back molars. Her advice: give extra attention when brushing, and make sure to floss. And Perio Protect was definitely going to help. After a thorough exam by the dentist, a dental assistant prepped the trays used to take impressions of my upper and lower arches. (The impressions would be used to make the customized Perio Protect trays I would need for my home-care routine.) She filled the trays with impression material (kind of like soft Silly Putty), then placed the first tray over my upper teeth and held it in place for a few minutes while the material set. After repeating the process on my lower teeth and rinsing out remnants of the impression material, they had all they needed. My part was done, for now. The office would send the impressions to a lab to make my Perio Protect trays. I’ll be back in a few weeks to pick them up and get started with the program. Can’t wait to reap the benefits!
My Perio Protect Journey, Part 1
Perio Protect is a take-home dental care treatment that prevents gum disease (with the added, long-term benefits of killing bacteria, freshening breath and whitening teeth). A Perio Protect kit consists of two light-weight dental trays made of a soft, pliable material that fit snugly over upper and lower teeth. Each tray is filled with a small amount of Perio Protect gel and worn for 15 minutes each day. The following describes one patient’s experience. Everyone loves the feel of a clean, fresh mouth. So when I heard how Perio Protect could maintain healthy gums and guarantee fresh breath by killing bacteria, I wanted to learn more. Being in the dental business, I was invited to attend a training session for dental hygienists that highlighted how Perio Protect works and the benefits of the treatment. By wearing customized trays filled with a small amount of Perio Protect Gel for 15 minutes each day, powerful medication is delivered deep below the gum line, reaching every possible nook and cranny where bacteria hide and multiply. Its clinical benefit is in the prevention and treatment of gum disease, but Perio Protect also alleviates swollen, sensitive or bleeding gums, maintains fresh breath and restores overall oral health. Over time, the mild concentration of hydrogen peroxide in the gel whitens teeth. Even though I’m meticulous about my oral hygiene, I learned what I was missing with my toothbrush, rinses and floss. I got a lot more detail than I needed, but enough to make me schedule an appointment the next day. I’ll report back after my visit. Stay tuned…