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Child eating lunch consisting of cheese, eggs, and healthy greens.

Back-to-School Lunch Ideas for Kids’ Healthy Teeth

By Kids Dentistry No Comments

Child eating lunch consisting of cheese, eggs, and healthy greens.

Back-to-School Lunch Ideas for Kids’ Healthy Teeth

It’s hard to believe that summer is over and school is back in session. For the patients at our Denver pediatric dentistry practice, that means it’s time to settle back into routine. The start of the school year is a busy time for youngsters, and it can be just as hectic for parents to adjust. Between getting your kids ready, making healthy lunches and getting your kids to school on time, there’s a million little things you have to do before you even step out the door in the morning.

The doctors at Kids Mile High want your school year to run as smoothly as possible. We also want your kiddos to be as healthy as can be — and to us, a healthy child starts with healthy teeth. With a little bit of planning, you can support your child’s oral health this school year by packing nutritious, delicious back-to-school lunches. Not sure where to start? Here are a few healthy lunch ideas for kids that they’re sure to love.

1. Leafy Green Veggies for Essential Vitamins and Minerals

We know that getting your kids excited about broccoli can be easier said than done. But there’s a reason leafy greens are king when it comes to health-boosting foods. Green vegetables are especially beneficial for the development of strong teeth for a few reasons: they’re chock full of essential vitamins and minerals that work to strengthen enamel. Kiddos not into steamed broccoli or kale salads? That’s okay! There are tons of creative ways to sneak leafy greens into your child’s lunch. Try one of these kid-approved broccoli recipes to get you started.

2. Yogurt, Cheese and Tofu for Enamel-Strengthening Calcium

Dairy products (like cheese and yogurt) and calcium-fortified products (like tofu) are rich in calcium, which also helps to strengthen tooth enamel. Pack yogurt cups in your child’s lunch for a healthy snack (just be sure to look out for harmful ingredients like added sugars). String cheese is also a fun, interactive treat. Want to stick to a more plant-based lunch? Cut tofu into bite-sized cubes or make a tofu scramble for a quick and easy calcium-infused lunch.

3. Crunchy Fruits and Vegetables to Scrub Away Plaque

Ideally, we’d all brush our teeth after every meal, not just in the morning and at night. But youngsters have enough to think about while in the classroom, especially at the beginning of the school year; telling them to brush and floss after lunch might be expecting a little too much. However, that doesn’t mean your kids’ teeth have to suffer during the school year. When you pack the right foods, your child’s back-to-school lunch can do double duty as both fuel and a plaque-fighting powerhouse. Crunchy veggies like carrots and celery work to scrub plaque from your kids’ teeth as they chew. Same goes for crunchy fruits like apples and pears. Bonus: these foods are also full of fiber, which is beneficial for your child’s overall health. To make sure your kiddos eat their veggies, include yummy homemade dips like hummus or ranch.

4. Hard-boiled Eggs for a Protein Boost

All kids like to eat with their hands, right? When their school lunch packs a healthy punch, that’s fine with us! Eggs are one of our favorite school snacks for kids because they’re protein-dense and contain vitamin D, both of which are essential to healthy teeth. Vitamin D also helps you absorb calcium, so eating eggs together with dairy or calcium-rich foods is a winning combo. Hard-boiled eggs are an easy finger food for school lunches, but if you have a picky eater, you could go for a kid-friendly egg salad sandwich instead. Then have them wash it down with a glass of milk or a side of yogurt to make sure they’re getting the most of their lunch.

5. Nuts and Seeds for Healthy Fats and Protein

Nuts are one of the best superfoods out there, thanks to their powerful nutrient make-up. Calcium, phosphorous, protein, heart-healthy fats and more — nuts and seeds have everything your kiddos need for a healthy smile and body. Our favorite nuts for oral health are almonds, cashews and walnuts, all of which are a nutritious snack for kids on their own. If you want to make your child’s lunch a little more interesting, pack apple slices with a side of almond butter to double down on tooth-healthy snacks.

6. Fruit for a Nutrient-Dense Sweet Treat

Most kids have a bit of a sweet tooth, but candy and ice cream aren’t exactly good for their teeth. You can still give them a little dessert in their school lunches by packing fruits like berries. Strawberries (and all berries, really) are packed with vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that helps repair the collagen in the dentin of the teeth. For a sweet treat at their end of their healthy school lunch, include a small portion of your child’s favorite berries, or add berries to plain greek yogurt for a healthy snack free from artificial sweeteners.

7. Water for Healthy, Happy Teeth

Last but not least: to make sure your child is absorbing all of these essential vitamins and minerals, make sure they’re drinking plenty of water. This will help to wash all of the good stuff through your child’s system, as well as whisk away plaque and harmful bacteria on the teeth. Fluoridated water is especially good for teeth. Known as “nature’s cavity fighter,” it’s the simplest way to avoid cavities and maintain a healthy smile. So always include water in your kids’ school lunches to set them up for a lifetime of good oral health.


The Best FREE Spring Activities for Kids in Central Park, Englewood and Downtown Denver

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FREE Spring Activities for Kids

Dr. Paddy absolutely loves winter sports and it’s one of the reasons he moved to Denver and become an Englewood and Central Park pediatric dentist. Yet, as much as he adores snow, Denver’s awesome all year long. Plus, he knows once February rolls around, kids can get a little stir crazy in between cold-weather adventures.

So, he’ll join the parents in the countdown to spring and in honor of the approaching season, we’ve put together a preview of upcoming opportunities for family fun. Of course, there are an array of cheap activities for kids in Englewood, Central Park and downtown Denver but Kids Mile High Pediatric Dentistry is always up for a challenge, which is why we’re focusing only on free spring activities for kids. 

Children’s Festival of Stories 

McNichols Civic Center Building, 144 W. Colfax Avenue, Denver – While the first annual Children’s Festival of Stories is technically a few days shy of spring, we love the idea and it’s close enough so it makes our list of free Denver activities for kids. Historic Elitch Theatre and Second Star to the Right are joining forces to put on this celebration of stories and reading at the McNichols Civic Center Building, which was actually the home of Denver’s first public library at one time.

The festival will be held on Saturday, March 17 and Sunday, March 18 with an evening event for adults on Friday, March 16. Festivities will include all sorts of fun performances and activities, including appearances by children’s book authors and illustrators.

On Saturday, March 17 from 9am to 4pm, young readers (infancy through 14-years-old) as well as parents, fans of children’s books and educators can enjoy interactive storytimes, book signings, panel presentations, performances, creation stations and more. On Sunday, March 18 between 10am and 3pm, there will be free workshops for writers and artists eight-years-old and up. Kids (and parents!) can hone their craft and have a blast learning and creating. Registration is required for the workshops.

Go on an Art Walk 

Luckily, finding free Central Park, CO spring activities for kids aren’t hard to find when you have such a vibrant community. Combine fresh air, exercise and culture by going on an art walk. Central Park has 16 public art pieces with work from artists around the country that will pique your child’s curiosity. Use the Central Park public art map to create a route or just freestyle one.

Family Day at the Opera 

Ellie Caulkins Opera House, 1385 Curtis Street, Denver – If you want to do something unique, let the kids experience the opera at the free Family Day event on Saturday, March 24. You’ll get the chance to take in a production sung in English by Opera Colorado’s Young Artists and also explore the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

Cinderella will be performed at 10am and a performance of The Elixir of Love will be held at 1pm. An hour prior to each performance, there will be kid-friendly refreshments and activities. Reservations are required, so scoop up your free tickets online starting March 1.

Easter Egg Hunts 

Good, old-fashioned Easter egg hunts are the perfect free spring activities for kids in Denver. The Central Park Egg Scramble will be held on Saturday, March 24 at 10am at Runway 35 (8863 E. 47th Avenue, Denver). It’s open to children and adults of all ages.

The Englewood Great Egg Scramble at Belleview Park (5001 S. Inca Drive, Englewood) will also be held on Saturday, March 24 at 10am. This one’s for kids ages one through eight (children will be grouped according to age). The event is free but donations will be accepted. The rain date is scheduled for Saturday, March 31.

Mommy and Me Movement & Creative Art Class  

McNichols Civic Center Building, 144 W. Colfax Avenue, Denver – The McNichols Civic Center Building is really the place to be this spring but what else is new? Anyway, the amazing Rebecca Kanov, founder of Arts & Minds, teaches free Denver mommy and me classes focused on movement and creative arts for parents and children (crawlers through four-years-old) at McNichols.

Children will get an introduction to dance, sensory play, breathing and yoga. Classes are held on Tuesdays at 11am through May 22. Complete the one-time waiver and register for the class by emailing [email protected] and confirming the date and number of tiny tots you’ll be bringing.

Spring Cleaning Includes a Trip to the Dentist. Book a Consultation Today!

Spring Break at the Library 

Englewood Library, 1000 Englewood Parkway – Looking for free Englewood spring activities for kids to keep your brood entertained during spring break this year? The Englewood Public Library will hold programs for children Monday, March 26 through Friday, March 30 at 1pm. The events will be tied to STEM, art, music and reading. There’s nothing wrong with keeping the learning going even when school’s out.  

Life-Size Candy Land 

Sam Gary Branch Library, 2961 Rosyln Street, Central Park, Denver – The Sam Gary Branch Library is an excellent place to find free activities for kids in Central Park, including regular storytimes. However, there’s one event scheduled this spring that’s a childhood dream come true: a life-sized game of Candy Land! The game, which is geared towards children ages three through eight, will be held on Friday, April 20 from 6 to 8pm in the library’s meeting room. For details on how to sign up, call the branch at (720) 865-0325.

Free Days at the Denver Botanic Gardens 

1007 York Street, Denver – The Denver Botanic Gardens is one of the top five botanic gardens in the country and it’s also home to the smaller, 3-acre Mordecai Children’s Garden, which is full of hands-on experiences and play. There are free days where admission doesn’t cost a dime throughout the year.

This spring, they’re scheduled for Sunday, April 8 and Tuesday, June 5. Can’t make those dates? The Chatfield Farms outpost in Littleton (8500 W. Deer Creek Canyon Road) will have free days on Tuesdays, March 6, April 3 and June 5.

Earth Day Celebration 

Littleton/Englewood Wastewater Treatment Plant, 2900 S. Platte River Drive, Englewood – Round up the family on Sunday, April 22 and celebrate Earth Day by giving the South Platte River a little TLC. This free Englewood, CO family event will involve a river walk and community clean up along a one-mile section of the river. Trash bags, vests, trash pickers and safety gloves will be provided as well as a light lunch after the work is done. For more information, contact Deb Parker at (303) 762-2638.

Día del Niño (Day of the Child) Celebrations

Denver – There are two fun, free Denver family events on Sunday, April 29 in honor of Día del Niño, a celebration of children observed by countries around the world. There will be a festival at the History Colorado Center (1200 N. Broadway) from 10am to 5pm with art-making activities and performances.

In partnership with the Denver Art Museum and other cultural organizations, The Clyfford Still Museum (1250 Bannock Street) will hold Día del Niño Family Day from 10am to 4pm. Watch live performances in the Museum’s forecourt and do art projects and activities before exploring the museum’s galleries. No registration necessary; just show up and celebrate!

Spring cleaning should always include a trip to the dentist. Get a jump start on the season and book a free consultation today.

Children and Halitosis (Bad Breath)

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It would be nearly impossible to sail through life without ever having stinky breath. After all, what kind of world would it be without garlic bread? While we often think of it as a problem that plagues adults, as most parents can attest, when it comes to bad breath kids aren’t immune either. In fact, halitosis (a fancy word for bad breath) can occur even in babies. A little morning breath is no big deal. However, mom and dad often get rightfully concerned when it’s persistent and lasts throughout the day even after brushing. Acute and chronic bad breath are typically caused by different things and we’ll go over the common culprits as well as how to get rid of bad breath in a child.

What Can Cause Bad Breath in Toddlers, Infants and Children?

Halitosis usually comes from the mouth but it can also originate in the nose or airway depending on the underlying cause. Who knew bad breath was such a complex issue? As a Denver pediatric dentist, here’s what Dr. Paddy sees most:

  • Morning Breath: When we’re sleeping, our saliva production slows way down. This lets odor-causing bacteria hang out and create a stink. Fortunately, this type of halitosis goes away when we brush our teeth and the spit starts flowing again.
  • Certain Foods: The digestive process begins as soon as you take a bite of food. Garlic, onions, cheese and other strong smelling foods start to breakdown in the mouth and as this happens, your kid’s breath doesn’t smell all that great. It’s a temporary type of halitosis and nothing to be alarmed about.
  • Poor Oral Hygiene: This is by far the number one reason kids develop bad breath. When children don’t brush and floss properly, food particles and plaque work their way into every nook and cranny and certain bacteria in the mouth have a heyday and release a stench. This can be even worse with children who are wearing fixed orthodontic appliances since they’re a little more challenging to keep clean.
  • The Tongue: The vast majority of odor-causing bacteria are on the back of the tongue where they attach to epithelial cells. These cells, bacteria and food particles get stuck in the crevices and decompose giving off a really foul smell.
  • Tooth Decay and Other Dental Problems: Cavities are decaying teeth and decay never smells good. Plus, teeth with cavities tend to trap food debris, which just adds to the problem. Abscessed teeth, mouth sores and damaged or improperly placed restorations can all stink or allow bacteria to accumulate too.
  • Gum Disease: Cavities, cavities, cavities. They’re the mouth monsters that get the most attention but gingivitis, or gum disease, is a serious concern too. When plaque and tartar build up on the teeth, the bacteria release acids and toxins that cause the gums to get infected and inflamed. One of the symptoms is bad breath.
  • Dry Mouth: This is a little like morning breath in that saliva isn’t washing away bacteria and food debris so the breath starts to smell. However, dry mouth, or xerostomia, doesn’t usually go away as easily as morning breath, particularly if it’s caused by medication or a medical condition. Dehydration can be behind dry mouth as well but it’s an easier fix.
  • Mouth Breathing: Mouth breathing, whether it’s a sleep habit or an occasional thing due to a stuffy nose, halts salvia production and causes dry mouth, leading to halitosis 
  • Sinus Infection: Sinus infections are another cause of bad breath that occurs frequently. The mucus makes its way down the back of the throat and gets comfy on the tongue. The bacteria then feed off the mucus and release smelly gases.  
  • Prominent Tonsils: Large tonsils or tonsils with deep pits are magnets for debris and oral and nasal secretions that decompose and smell bad. Also, tonsilloliths (whitish-yellow secretions) can form in the pits and as they break up, they give off a stinky odor.
  • Medications: Antihistamines, bronchodilators, antipsychotics, antidepressants, antispasmodics and several other medications are known to cause dry mouth and bad breath. When kids use antibiotics for an extended period, halitosis can also temporarily rear its head.
  • Health Conditions and Illnesses: There are a variety of health conditions that can result in halitosis in children including diabetes, the aforementioned sinus infections and postnasal drip, allergies, gastroesophageal reflux, infections in the respiratory tract, thrush, diabetes and, less commonly, liver and kidney issues, among others. Don’t panic. Just because your kid’s breath is unpleasant, it doesn’t mean they necessarily have a disease or serious health concern. However, if we’ve ruled out all other causes, visiting the pediatrician is a good idea.
  • Something Stuck in the Nose: Let’s face it, kids do some strange things as they explore the world around them and toddlers have been known to stick things in their nose. Whether it’s a small toy or a piece of food, it will cause inflammation, nasal secretions and eventually a bad odor. If, after all of your investigative work, you’re still asking yourself, “Why does my toddler’s breath smell so bad?,” it can’t hurt to take a look in their nose. If you do spot something and it happens to be a hard object, you can make an attempt to remove it yourself. The Cleveland Clinic suggests trying the “mother’s kiss” method a single time. To perform the “mother’s kiss,” put your hand over your little one’s mouth, close the nostril that isn’t obstructed with your finger and blow gently into their mouth. If it’s not successful or the object is soft, seek medical attention. If you don’t see anything but there’s a foul stench coming from one nostril or your child has a high fever and dark green mucus, contact their pediatrician.

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Kids Halitosis Remedies

  • Have your child brush their teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time and floss once daily. For younger kids, you’ll probably need to brush and floss for them or at least provide a little assistance and supervision. Kids should brush the back of their tongue or use a tongue scraper too to get rid of the smelly coating.
  • Make breakfast a priority. Eating in the morning gets the saliva going and helps wash away food particles and bacteria.
  • To keep dry mouth at bay, children need to drink enough water throughout the day. They can also rinse with water after every meal or snack or whenever their mouth feels dry.
  • Another way to boost saliva production and say goodbye to bacteria is letting kids chew sugarless gum (they’ll love this one!). Look for gum containing xylitol, a natural way to fight cavities, and you’ll address two problems at once.
  • Give your child raw fruits and veggies as snacks. Crunchy things like carrot sticks or apple slices are “nature’s toothbrushes” since they can help scrape away plaque. Plus, if they fill up on healthy foods, they’ll be less likely to seek out sugary treats.
  • If halitosis is caused by cavities, gum disease or oral infections, your dentist will need to step in and treat the problem while also giving you instructions for home care.
  • Try to stop mouth breathing in its tracks if it’s a nighttime habit. Pediatric dentists are well versed in helping patients eliminate harmful oral habits.
  • Visit the pediatrician regularly and if bad breath is from a health condition, talk about possible treatments. If medication is the reason and a child is really bothered by their bad breath, you might want to discuss alternatives.
  • See your pediatric dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. We’ll keep your child’s oral health on track and kick dragon breath to the curb.

How We Get to the Bottom of Bad Breath in Kids

When kiddos come into our Denver pediatric dental practice with bad breath, we don’t just give them mints or tell them to brush and floss more. We want to find the underlying cause in order to best treat the problem. Here’s what you can expect:

  • The Sniff Test: Parents are sometimes surprised when Dr. Paddy gets a few inches away from their child’s mouth and sniffs. However, this is the most reliable way to diagnose halitosis and different smells can mean different things. For example, gum disease and tooth decay have distinct odors as do issues like uncontrolled diabetes.
  • Complete Medical History: Once we smell your child’s breath, we’ll chat with you about their health history, medical conditions and medications they’re taking.
  • Examination: An exam is necessary to check for problems such as cavities, gum disease, dry mouth, damaged restorations, mouth sores and debris and plaque around orthodontic appliances. These are all treatable and the sooner we uncover the problem, the sooner your child can regain their fresh breath.

A lot of causes of bad breath can be taken care of at home. However, if excellent oral hygiene, a healthy diet, plenty of water and other practices don’t help at all, schedule an appointment at Kids Mile High. Dr. Paddy has been trained in the unique oral health needs of kids. He can determine the reason why your child’s breath smells bad and take the steps to fix it.

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Candy, Chocolate, Cookies and Santa Claus: Keeping Your Kids Teeth Healthy

Candy, Chocolate, Cookies and Santa Claus: Keeping Your Kids Teeth Healthy

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Candy, Chocolate, Cookies and Santa Claus: Keeping Your Kids Teeth Healthy

Hanukkah is underway, Christmas is fast approaching and before you know it, we’ll be ringing in 2018. This time of year means twinkling lights, candles aglow, festive tunes, gifts, enjoying the company of loved ones and a general feeling of goodwill but it also means sugar, sugar and more sugar! There’s nothing the mouth monsters love more than holiday sweets. Dr. Paddy and the Kids Mile High team are all well aware that patients aren’t going to follow up a night of caroling with hot carrot juice instead of hot chocolate and we wouldn’t expect little ones to give up all of their favorite treats. However, a few small tweaks can really go a long way in preventing cavities. Here are our tips for parents on how to keep your kids teeth healthy during the holidays.

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  1. Pay Special Attention to Brushing and Flossing: So, you got home late from a family gathering. It would be so easy to let the kiddos skip their oral hygiene routine for the night and fall into bed. Try your very best to avoid this and spend the few extra minutes making sure their teeth are brushed and flossed. As always, have your kids brush twice a day (once in the morning and once at bedtime) with a fluoride toothpaste and floss at night. You may even want to follow up with a cavity-fighting mouthwash. If you’re unsure of what to use, ask us, and we’ll point you in the right direction. During the holidays, if your kids are really getting down with the sweets, it’s a good idea to throw in an extra brushing session or at least have them rinse their mouth out really well with water after eating or drinking something high in sugar.
  2. Moderation is Key: We know it’s easier said than done but sticking with a balanced, nutritious diet during all of the celebrations is important. Munching on desserts and sipping on sweet drinks is best done in moderation. Plus, it will make them taste all that much better knowing it’s a special occasion. Limiting treats at the holidays for kids really starts at home. Keep your own pantry stocked with healthy essentials and let them get their treat fix when you’re out and about so that it’s not a continuous cycle of sugar. If there’s a particularly sugar-fueled event on the calendar, it could be helpful to be extra careful about what your kids eat leading up to it.
  3. Don’t Eat or Drink too Slowly: There are a lot of benefits of eating slowly and savoring your meals but when it comes to kids and candy, soda and all of the big cavity offenders, slow isn’t better. The bacteria in the mouth feed on sugars and starches and as they do, they release acids that mix with spit and food debris and form plaque. When it isn’t brushed away, the acids start to damage the enamel, eventually leading to cavities. After eating or drinking, the bad acids hang out for about a half hour and with each sip or bite, the clock starts over. So, slowly sipping on hot chocolate over the course of an hour or snacking on treats throughout the day just means little teeth are exposed to acids for much longer. Sugar here and there is fine but constantly bathing the teeth in it isn’t. Instead, make sure your kids are drinking sugary drinks or eating sugary snacks at a normal pace and in one sitting.
  4. Make Some Healthy Swaps Where You Can: Some of the worst holiday treats for your kids can easily receive a healthy makeover and still taste fantastic. Using fresh fruit in certain cakes, for example, can take the place of some of the refined sugar while offering a hint of sweetness. Making hot chocolate that’s heavy on the milk and lighter on the chocolate, will give teeth a boost of calcium and milk has been shown to decrease the acid levels in plaque.
  5. Give the Kids a Few Tooth-Friendly Holiday Gifts: Only putting dental floss and fresh vegetables under the tree probably won’t go over that well but that doesn’t mean a few gifts can’t be related to oral health. Sugarless gum with xylitol is excellent for killing sugar bugs and it’s the perfect stocking stuffer or small, add-on Hanukah gift. You can also try exceptionally tasty toothpaste along with an electric toothbrush for older kids or a super fun, colorful toothbrush for younger ones.
  6. Hydrate with Water: Water is up there on the list of things that teeth love. It keeps spit flowing and spit neutralizes those plaque acids. Plus, it gives teeth a bath, washing away food debris and bacteria. Have the kids drink water throughout the day and balance out any other beverages with a glass of H20. Fill up your water bottle before heading out to a party or a visit with Santa.
  7. Keep Up With Dental Exams and Cleanings: We know it gets really busy around the holidays and going to the dentist probably falls lower on the to-do list than say, eating a ton of Christmas cookies. However, your child’s checkups and cleanings are the cornerstones of their preventative care. We’re able to get rid of the hardened plaque that can’t be eliminated with brushing and flossing at home, make sure teeth and gums are in top-notch shape and, if problems do arise, we can catch them early while treatment is less invasive. Consider it your gift to your little one’s smile!

Keeping your child’s teeth healthy during Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s doesn’t have to turn into a seasonal full-time job. Just be mindful of their sugar intake and follow the same guidelines as you do the rest of the year. As long as your child is brushing and flossing, going for their regular checkups and cleanings and not eating an all candy cane diet, there’s no need to worry. If you have questions or concerns or want to start your child’s 2018 off with a bright smile under the care of a Denver pediatric dentist, contact us.

Happy holidays from Kids Mile High Pediatric Dentistry!