Skye Cossio - Howard Hand in Hand

Skye Cossio, Howard Hand in Hand

For most families, the holiday season is a joyful, magical time filled with gifts from Santa, trips to see family and friends, and so much more. For others, the holidays take on a new feeling when families are dealing with sick spouses, aging parents or coping children. This is where Howard Hand in Hand at St. Joseph’s/Candler steps in – not just during the holidays, but year-round. In partnership with SJ/C, Howard Hand in Hand provides support, education and guidance to children and teens with a family member facing a life-threatening disease. Free of cost, this program helps children cope with and process their thoughts and feelings – often fear, sadness, anger, confusion – about how life has changed for them and their families because of an illness or disease.

Enter Skye Cossio. Skye is the social worker spearheading the Howard Hand in Hand support program. She’s taking Hand in Hand to new levels by growing the program through technological advancements and by facilitating support systems between children of the program. She now has extended capabilities to counsel children through a new video chat service. When the child is missing their ill mom at dinner because she isn’t at the table, or when dad has to tuck them into bed instead of mom, Skye can be there digitally to talk them through it. Skye also created a portal for peer support where she can facilitate connections between children in similar situations, but different geographical locations. She continues to work on programs and resources to grow the program as the pool of families in need increases year over year.

We caught up with Skye and asked her to share some stories of the families she’s been working with recently. Here’s what she had to say:

I am working with four new families this holiday season through the Howard Hand in Hand program. All of these families have mothers who are ill and fathers who are fortunately present in their lives to help take care of the children. These children range anywhere from 2 to 13 years old. Let me try and set the stage for you – while mom focuses on her treatment and road to recovery, dad is resuming his role as a father and husband; he is gaining his wife’s duties as mother and caretaker; and he is now in charge of all the inevitable needs of children ranging from a young toddler to an emerging teenager. In between all of the cooking, cleaning and chauffeuring, dad is also now in charge of shopping for the holidays – he is swamped and clueless. He is also in constant thought of: “What if my wife doesn’t make it? What if this is our new normal? What would life be like without her?”

It isn’t uncommon for me to step in and help not only the children cope with their parent’s illness, but also the spouse. I started by asking dad, “What do your kids want for the holidays this year?” Dad pondered and found himself stumped. With so much on his mind and his plate, I wasn’t surprised! I worked with dad to investigate – look through their rooms, tell me their interests and let me know if anything comes up in conversations. In the midst of his wife’s treatment, one dad received a note home from his tween’s gym teacher saying she suggested his daughter get a sports bra. Dad doesn’t know how to shop for those things! I made sure I was there to support him and to talk through how to take on these motherly duties, some of which may be a little uncomfortable, but need to be addressed now to prepare for the “what ifs” of their situation.

I am proud and so excited to say that the nurses of St. Joseph’s/Candler have rallied together to bring Christmas to these four families – four families who may or may not have Christmas all together again. The nurses have graciously bought gifts for the 2- to 13-year-old children who see Christmas as the only light this holiday season. We will try our best to make this light as bright as we can! We plan to dress in our holiday best (or tackiest!) and deliver the gifts to these families. At the end of the day, it isn’t even about the physical gifts, but facilitating togetherness and a festive atmosphere in an otherwise dark and challenging time.

I am also working with a military family who has a 6- and 2-year-old. They were assigned to the Savannah area, and soon after moving here, mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Similar to the four families I just told you about, dad had to resume the mom role. For this family, I provided my typical counseling to the children and also pulled in outsourced support services to help dad as well. The oldest child was not yet registered for the daycare lottery, so I worked with a local support service that helped us find not only a daycare, but a daycare that had mom and dad’s blessing. One of the children also developed a speech impediment because mom didn’t have enough energy to converse with the child during her treatment. I again sourced a support service to find the child a local speech therapist. For the holidays, I found a local photographer who is donating her services to take professional photos of the family. I am also working with a local author that is donating her time to help mom write letters for her children to open at milestones in their lives, just in case she can’t be there physically to celebrate with them.

Another amazing thing we were able to do for this family was to send them on an all-inclusive paid trip to anywhere in the country through a partnership with the Jack and Jill Foundation. The foundation graciously provided a two-day, three-night vacation for four where the family would stay in the nicest suite, dine at the best table in the restaurant and not have to worry about cancer or expenses. This trip will be something the entire family will fondly look back on and cherish for the rest of their lives.
It brings me great joy to bring some sort of “normal” to these children and families during such a heart wrenching and challenging time in their lives, and I can only continue to do so through the generous donations to the Howard Hand in Hand program. To date, I’ve been able to counsel over 77 children and work with over 157 families.

To learn more about Howard Hand in Hand, or to donate, please visit Howard Hand in Hand on sjchs.org.

Spotlight: Dr. Sharnn Shepheard

Statesboro community – please join us in welcoming Dr. Sharnn Shepheard to your local Howard Family Dental office located on Northside Drive! Dr. Shepheard is a Georgia native and joins Howard Family Dental as a seasoned provider with over 28 years of clinical experience and an extensive background in research and education.

Dentistry was a childhood dream of Dr. Shepheard. He was inspired to become a dentist by his neighbor, Dr. Hutto, whom he genuinely admired. Dr. Shepheard considers dentistry his passion, not his job, and seeks to improve patients’ quality of life and enhance their self-esteem through the restoration, rehabilitation and preservation of their smile. In his free time, Dr. Shepheard enjoys golfing, reading and spending quality time with his wife, Alison.

Dr. Shepheard is a graduate of Morris Brown College/Atlanta University Center, where he majored in biology. He went on to earn his doctorate from Howard University, College of Dentistry. He completed his general practice residency at Harlem Hospital Center in New York, an affiliate of Columbia University. Dr. Shepheard also served as a Post-Doctoral Fellow with the National Institute of Dental Research of the National Institutes of Health, where he was published and awarded a National Research Service Award.

 

Make an appointment with Dr. Shepheard today!
Diabetes and Oral Health

Diabetes and Oral Health

Diabetes can cause serious tooth and gum problems. 

Diabetes affects 1 in 10 people in the United States and can lead to vision loss, kidney damage, high blood pressure and problems with feet and hands. People with diabetes are also far more at risk for periodontal disease than the general population, and experience almost 3 times the rate of tooth and gum problems. Research suggests that diabetes is the primary systemic risk factor for periodontal disease.

People with diabetes are often aware of the importance of podiatric (foot) and opthalmic (vision) screenings, but many do not realize the two-way relationship between oral health and diabetes. Tooth loss, for example, is up to two times more frequent in people with diabetes than non-diabetics. Periodontal disease can affect insulin sensitivity, lead to unhealthy blood sugar levels and damage the bone and gum that hold your teeth in place.

So if you have diabetes, paying special attention to your oral health can not only improve your quality of life and overall health, but it can also save you money. Statistics show that receiving dental care reduces average medical costs by about $2800 per year.

Dental Tips for People with Diabetes

The good news is that you can keep your teeth and gums healthy. By following our simple tips, you can help prevent some serious problems in your mouth.

  1. Take control of your blood glucose. Develop a healthy eating plan and get regular exercise if you’re able. Try to eat consistently. Focus your attention on carbs, portion control, and eating lots of fiber and non-starchy vegetables.
  2. Brush, floss, rinse and chew. We call these the Daily 4. Brush your teeth for two minutes two times daily. Floss your teeth before bed. Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after meals. And chew gum to help your mouth produce helpful bacteria that attack plaque.
  3. Visit your dentist for routine checkups. Consider all the medical professionals in your life a kind of health management team. Start a conversation with your dentist about your diabetes and any symptoms you’re experiencing. Speak with your doctor about your oral health. Remember that health is holistic and there are many connections between your oral health and the rest of your body.
  4. Quit smoking. You can watch one of those ads here.If you’re still smoking, it’s time to stop. We know it’s difficult, but the evidence against smoking is inarguable. In fact, a federal court has ordered all major tobacco companies to begin running advertising over the next year that admits they made cigarettes more addictive and lied about the health risks associated with smoking.
  5. Talk with a diabetes educator. If you’re worried you’re not doing the best you can to manage your diabetes, you might want to consider meeting with a diabetes educator. As a member of your healthcare team, a diabetes educator makes managing your diabetes easier. They work with you to develop a plan to stay healthy, and give you the tools and ongoing support to make that plan a regular part of your life. You can find a diabetes educator near you at diabeteseducator.org.

 

Symptoms of Gum Disease, Gingivitis and Periodontitis

Since gum disease is often painless, you may not even know you have it until it becomes serious.

So if you have diabetes and want to monitor your oral health for the best results, watch out for the following symptoms. If you think you are experiencing any of these, schedule a conversation with your dentist to evaluate your gum health. Your problems may only be minor, but

  1. Swollen or tender gums
  2. Gums that easily bleed while brushing and flossing
  3. Receding gum line
  4. Difficulty chewing
  5. Chronic bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
  6. A buildup of pus between teeth and gums
  7. Loose teeth or teeth that are drifting apart

 
Taking control of your oral health can help you manage or prevent diabetes. In addition to following our tips, regular conversations with your dentist about your overall health and symptoms can help them provide the best care for your future. If you’re diabetic or experiencing any of these symptoms, we’re always just a phone call away!

Free Dental Day - November 17 in Pooler, Georgia

Free Dental Day – November 17 in Pooler, Georgia

Howard Family Dental is proud to offer our annual Free Dental Day, held on November 17th, 2017. The staff and dentists at Howard Family Dental will provide one free service for both children and adults; choose a cleaning, filling or extraction. The event is first come, first served and is limited to the first 175 people.

Over the last few years, the event has grown and includes many community organizations. America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia and Target Distribution brings food for individuals and families that are suffering with food insecurity. Walgreens staff will also be onsite providing complimentary flu shots. Strickland’s Funeral Home and Calvary Assembly of God generously allow parking and many local restaurants offer food donations for their volunteers.

Numbers will be handed out the day of the event, beginning at 6:30 am. The event is held at our Pooler location, 91 Brighton Woods Drive, every year the Friday before Thanksgiving. It is our way of giving thanks and appreciation to the community.

Last year, Howard Family Dental Free Dental Day served 225 people and completed $65,000 worth of services.

 

About Howard Family Dental:

Howard Family Dental is Coastal Georgia’s most trusted name in family dentistry. Locally owned and operated since 1980, our company has offices conveniently located to serve greater Savannah, Pooler, Brunswick, Hinesville, Statesboro, Beaufort, Bluffton, Richmond Hill and Rincon. The dentists and staff at Howard Family Dental offer a wide range of dental services catering specifically to your patient needs. Services include Crowns, Bridges, Periodontal, Cosmetic Dentistry, Teeth Whitening, Invisalign and Sleep Apnea. For more information, call us at (912)629-9000.

About America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia, Inc.:

America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia serves as a regional food bank, functioning as the food warehouse and distribution center to more than 280 non-profit organizations and churches in our area. Through food relief programs and collaboration with partner agencies, America’s Second Harvest distributed more than 10.1 million pounds of food last year to people in need in our community – children, senior citizens, people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness and others whose incomes are insufficient to meet their basic needs. To learn more about the fight against hunger in our community, call (912) 236-6750 or visit www.helpendhunger.org.

Halloween celebration concept with candy corn and jack o lantern cup on wooden table.

The Worst Halloween Candy For Your Teeth

Binge-eating a pillowcase full of peanut butter cups and candy corn while you’re dressed as Wonder Woman is kind of the point of Halloween, isn’t it? But we all know that candy isn’t the healthiest snack on the block – even if you promise to brush and floss when you finally finish stuffing your face.

Sadly, the only candy out there that doesn’t contribute to tooth decay and cavities is probably sugar-free gum. But you’re not knocking on your neighbors’ doors in search of chewing gum, are you? Learn more about the negative effects your favorite candy can have on your teeth or—if you’re impatient—scroll to the bottom of the page to find out the worst!

Closeup of chocolate,peanut and caramel bar isolated on white with clipping path

Chocolate

Examples: Hershey Bar, 3 Musketeers, M&Ms & Peanut Butter Cups

If you’re a chocoholic, you’re in luck. As long as you’re eating a simple bar of chocolate without caramel or many other ingredients, you’re getting a snack that will wash off your teeth fairly easily. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, even has some health benefits! It’s an iron-packed source of antioxidants that may improve blood flow, lower blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease, and improve brain function.

Chocolate is probably the best candy for your teeth. But remember, moderation is the goal here. Too much of anything is bad for you.

Sour candy isolated on a white background

Sour Candy

Examples: Sour Patch Kids, Warheads, SweeTarts & Pixie Stix

Sour candy has a higher acidic content than other types of candy. It’s probably no surprise to you, but eating something like Pixie Stix–which are nothing more than flavored sugar you don’t even have to chew–doesn’t provide any nutritional value and can lead to cavities in addition to blood sugar issues.

If you’re going to indulge with sour candies, try rinsing with a glass of water afterward to wash away the cavity-causing acidity contained in these mouth-puckering bites.

Lollipops in a variety of colors isolated on a white background

Hard Candy

Examples: Jolly Ranchers, Runts, Lemon Heads & Lifesavers

Hard candy like lollipops and jawbreakers is just as bad for you as sour candy, and for many of the same reasons. Because we often suck on hard candy to get it to dissolve, it is in our mouths much longer than other Halloween candy. This just leaves more time for sugars to attack and break down tooth enamel.

If hard candy is a habit for you, we don’t have a lot of good news to share. Try switching to sugar-free gum when you get that urge. And of course remember to rinse after you’re finished with hard candy, even if it’s just tap water.

Gummy bears

Gummy and Chewy Candies

Examples: Gummy Bears, Swedish Fish, Bit-O-Honey & Mary Janes

Like we mentioned above, about the only candy you really want to be chewing on is sugar-free gum. The mixture of sugar and gelatin in gummy bears and worms is very acidic and will wear down tooth enamel, which can lead to exposed nerves and sensitive teeth.

Hey. We love Haribo Gold Bears just as much as the next person, but let’s try and limit ourselves to one bag a week. We can live with that, right? Hopefully. Maybe. Let’s just say we’ll give it a shot.

Saltwater taffy on a white backgroundTaffy or Caramel

Examples: Caramel Chews, Saltwater Taffy & Riesen

The worst halloween candy for your teeth is a tie between taffy and caramel. These bite-sized, sticky morsels of pure sugar get trapped in the grooves of your teeth and are more difficult to rinse away with salvia or water than the average candy. When sugar like what’s inside taffy or caramel gets stuck to teeth, it creates excess bacteria in your mouth which allows acids to thrive and develop into tooth decay. Caramel also contains small amounts of saturated fat, which increases your risk of heart disease.

The worst part of very sticky Halloween candies is that they can pull out fillings, bridges or braces! If you’ve got an orthodontic appliance or fillings, it is best to just stay away entirely.

 

Black female runner in forest tying shoe, low section detail

Walk for Women’s Health & Fitness Day

The last Wednesday in September is National Women’s Health & Fitness Day, a day that encourages women to take control of their health, make healthy choices and engage in regular physical activity. This year’s theme is: “Fitness…It’s a Smart Choice for Life!”

In addition to eating right, drinking enough water and getting regular checkups, studies show that getting just 150 minutes of exercise per week could add an extra 3.4 years to your life! Women’s Health & Fitness Day is the perfect chance for us to get up, get moving and get started on our health and fitness goals.
 

What are the health benefits of walking?

 
Hippocrates famously said “Walking is the best medicine.”

And believe it or not, walking might be healthier than running. Walking briskly can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as much as running – and it doesn’t put as much wear and tear on your knees and hips.

Walking also eases back pain, lowers stress and protects against dementia, osteoporosis and depression.
 

How long should I walk?

 
How long you should walk probably depends on your current level of fitness. A lot of people go by the 10,000 steps rule which amounts to roughly five miles – but that sounds a little scary to anyone just getting started! We recommend taking a walk in the morning, during your lunch break or after work, because these are great times of day to clear your mind and destress.

If you haven’t exercised in a while, try walking for five minutes, taking a break and going for another five. Research shows that doing anything physically active is infinitely better than doing nothing. So if you only make it five minutes, don’t beat yourself up – you’re doing great.
 

Need more help getting started?

 
We know it’s easier said than done. So if you’re nervous about getting started on the right foot, try sharing this post with a friend and inviting her to walk with you! Remember that health and fitness isn’t all or nothing – it’s step by step. So set a reachable goal just for today. And worry about tomorrow tomorrow.

If you’re looking for a little extra motivation, check out some of the materials we’ve gathered for you below.

Make Activity Part of Your Lifestyle - Oregon State University

Oral Care Tips for Healthy Aging

Oral Care Tips for Healthy Aging

Growing older often means facing new and unexpected health challenges. Knee pain, weight gain, vision and hearing problems – these are all normal side effects of aging. But there’s a misconception that tooth loss is in inevitable, and that’s just not true.

Depending on lifestyle and genetics, some people keep their natural teeth their whole lives. Others manage with only a few implants, crowns or a bridge. But if you take care of your teeth and gums throughout your life, you might be able to avoid complicated health issues down the road.

Why Oral Health Matters at Every Age

When people think of a healthy smile, they often think of straight or white teeth. But good oral health involves much more than a year in braces or the occasional teeth whitening.

Your mouth basically acts as a window to your overall health. Links have been found between cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. These diseases can manifest as gum inflammation, tooth loss or sores. Women especially should pay close attention to their gum health during pregnancy – as periodontitis has been linked with premature birth and low birth weight.

Teeth become less sensitive and more susceptible to tooth decay as you age. Following an oral care routine while improving other habits can not only improve your quality of life, but help you keep your teeth and gums healthy too. Healthy natural teeth will keep your healthcare costs down in the long run, because you’ll need fewer fillings, sealants, or more costly procedures like root canals and crowns.

5 Oral Care Tips for Healthy Aging

Follow the Daily 4

Brush. Floss. Rinse. Chew. It’s not a new concept, but it bears repeating. Brushing twice, flossing, using mouthwash and chewing sugar-free gum each day is a routine that keeps your mouth healthy. If you have trouble cleaning the spaces between your teeth near your gum line, we recommend Soft Picks from GUM®. If your gums or teeth are sensitive, talk to your dentist about toothpaste options and soft-bristle toothbrushes.

Don’t Smoke

Another one we’ve all heard time and time again. Smoking cigarettes not only stains your teeth and makes it harder to breathe, it can also lead to heart disease, lung cancer, pregnancy complications, erectile dysfunction, anxiety, poor vision and oral cancer. If you’re considering smoking alternatives like vaporizers, cloves or smokeless tobacco – don’t. None of these alternatives have been proven to be safe alternatives, and some could be even more harmful than cigarettes.

Rethink Your Drink

According to a major study, “the odds of dying from heart disease rose in tandem with the percentage of sugar in the diet—and that was true regardless of a person’s age, sex, physical activity level, and body-mass index.” And drinking sugar-sweetened beverages doesn’t just make you gain weight, it can also lead to diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and heart, tooth and gum disease. Sugary drinks eat away at the enamel of teeth, causing teeth to become weaker and thinner over time. This can lead to tooth decay, cavities and missing teeth.

You can add some flavor to your water with lemon, lime or cucumber slices. Or switch to sparkling water if you can’t live without a little carbonation in your life. 1% or skim milk is also a great choice because it includes calcium, which keeps your bones and teeth strong.

Replace Missing Teeth

If you are missing teeth, it is very important that talk with your dentist about replacing them. Your jaw is designed to operate with 28 teeth and as soon as one is out of the equation, the surrounding teeth start to drift into the empty space. This not only makes your good teeth more prone to decay and gum disease, but it can also change your appearance. The longer you wait after a tooth is extracted, the more bone volume you lose. And the more bone volume you lose, the more expensive and difficult it becomes to get teeth replaced.

If you’re interested in replacing one or more missing teeth, you have options! Talk with your dentist about dental implants, fixed partial dentures (fixed bridge) or dentures to replace your missing teeth.

Schedule an Oral Cancer Screening

Oral cancer is commonly associated with alcohol consumption and tobacco products. However, recent studies have found other causes for oral cancer as well such as HPV. An oral cancer screening uses technology to check for abnormal cells or lesion in the oral cavity. Any abnormality detected will indicate the need for more advanced screenings and tests.

Early detection saves lives. The sooner your dentist catches an abnormal lesion or cell, the better and more predictable the treatment will be – because it will be less invasive. So ask your dentist at your next checkup to screen your mouth for oral cancer symptoms.

Natural Beauty with stunning eyes and a perfect candid expression. Nikon D3X. Slightly cross-processed to underline that warm natural smile.

Thinking About Adult Braces? Know Your Options.

Has your dentist recommended braces for healthier teeth or a better bite? Is there something you’ve always wanted to improve about the appearance of your smile? Then you should know that braces and orthodontic care aren’t just for kids. At Howard Family Dental, more adults than ever before are choosing them. In fact, 20% of all orthodontic patients today are adults. Healthy teeth can be moved at almost any age.

 

Why an Adult may need Orthodontic Care

There are many reasons orthodontic care may be recommended for adults. Crowded teeth, missing teeth or jaws that are out of alignment – a condition called malocclusion or “bad bite” – can cause excessive wear on teeth. They may cause jaw pain or difficulty chewing. And they can make teeth harder to keep clean, which may lead to cavities or worse.

Cosmetic considerations are important as well. An attractive smile is a real confidence booster. And since people are keeping their natural teeth longer than ever, it can make a difference at any age.

 

Options for Adults

When you think of braces, you may think of big metal appliances on the teeth. But there are other options available that may be right for you:

  • Invisalign® – These aligners are clear trays that fit snugly over the teeth. Many adults prefer them because they are virtually invisible when worn. Each aligner is designed to shift your teeth slightly. During treatment, you go through several sets. With each one, your teeth move according to the treatment plan mapped out by your orthodontist until they are in the proper position. These aligners are removable for eating and brushing, but should be worn 22 hours a day.
  • Braces – Wearing braces no longer means having a mouth full of metal brackets. Braces are smaller and lighter. Clear brackets and ceramic brackets that match your teeth can make them a much more attractive option for adults.

Advances in the design of these options can also make the course of treatment faster than before. At Howard Family Dental, you and your orthodontist can evaluate your particular orthodontic needs, cost considerations and personal preferences to help you make the right choice.

 

Amber’s Experience with Adult Braces

 

 

Amber had issues with her teeth crowding each other. For cosmetic purposes, she was eager to have them treated. Braces were the best option for her. Her orthodontist used clear brackets, which were much less noticeable than metal ones.

 

What was your experience like as an adult with braces?

It was great! I had clear brackets so they were not super noticeable. I had so many other adults comment on how they were considering getting orthodontics after seeing me do it.

How long did your total treatment take?

Only about eight months. I just had a few teeth I wanted to shift.

Did you experience any unusual reactions from friends and family while undergoing treatment?

Just positive comments. I was surprised how many people commented that they wanted to explore braces as well.

How did you modify your diet while wearing braces?

I stayed away from really sticky and crunchy food that could have broken my brackets. But if I really wanted something that fell into that category, I was very careful and did not bite into anything directly. I only had one broken bracket throughout my entire treatment.

Are you pleased with your results?

Absolutely! If you are an adult and you are interested in braces, go for it. It is well worth the time and financial investment to be happy and confident with your smile. You will not regret it!

 

Ben’s Experience with Invisalign

 

 

Ben was experiencing jaw pain because of his bite. His dentist recommended braces to treat the problem. At his orthodontic checkup, he learned he’d be a good candidate for Invisalign, so that’s the option he chose.

 

What was it like being an adult wearing Invisalign?

At first, it was definitely an adjustment. It was tough not to keep poking at my aligners with my tongue and to remember to do the things I needed to do to take care of them. After about a month, though, it all just became second nature. It was great. People didn’t even realize I was wearing them until I pointed it out.

How long did your total treatment last?

From first impressions to final removal, about 14 months.

How often did you have to go for treatment?

I went every six weeks or so, to get my set of trays adjusted or replaced. I came in maybe a half-dozen times during the course of treatment. I was always in and out very quickly, in about 20 to 30 minutes.

How many hours a day did you wear your aligners?

I was really good until the last few trays. Probably 20 hours a day or so.

Was it difficult to keep up with cleaning your aligners?

Well, to help me remember to brush after each meal, I hid toothbrushes and toothpaste everywhere – in the kitchen, all bathrooms, office, car, briefcase – because otherwise I wouldn’t remember. I still find them in odd places as I clean the house.

Are you pleased with the results?

I’m thrilled. My jaw doesn’t hurt when I eat anymore, and my smile looks great. I went and got whitening afterwards, just to top off the whole experience! People notice it. I didn’t think my teeth were that bad before. But when people come up to you and say, “Wow, your teeth look great,” you just know you made the right choice.

 

If you’re an adult interested in exploring the possibilities of orthodontic care, contact Howard Family Dental today.

Group of children having packed lunches

Teeth-Friendly School Lunchbox Ideas

With so much to do before kids head back to school, one of the most common details parents forget is packing a healthy lunch. A nutritious meal at lunchtime plays an important role in your child’s energy and focus at school, and could make a big difference on their report card.

Packing a teeth-friendly school lunchbox doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming as long as you plan ahead, get used to a little nightly chopping action, and try to make it fun. We’ve assembled the 5 friendliest food groups for your kids’ teeth and lots of tips for packing fun and teeth-friendly ideas into their school lunchbox.
 

Veggies

Fresh vegetables in colorful bowls isolated on white. Healthy party snacks. Asparagus, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce leaves and cherry tomatoes.

Crunchy vegetables—like carrots, cucumbers, celery, green peppers, lettuce and broccoli—are probably the best snack for your teeth, period. The high water content of vegetables not only rehydrates our bodies, but also dilutes natural sugars and washes away food particles while we eat.

The easiest way to liven up raw veggies is to include a dip like hummus, cream cheese or fresh salsa. But if you want to get a little fancier, try a dill cucumber dip or one of these delicious summer slaw salad recipes.

If your children aren’t very fond of vegetables in the first place, getting them to eat healthier can be a challenge. Just remember to set a good example for them with your own eating habits, introduce new foods slowly, invite your kids to cook with you, and allow them to have “sometimes” foods like sugary cereals or the occasional Happy Meal as a reward.
 

Cheese

Cheeses, White Background, Clipping path

Cheese is high in calcium and phosphorus, two minerals that help keep tooth enamel strong. Cheese increases saliva in your mouth, which acts as a natural defense against cavities and gum disease.

Cutting cheese into bite-sized cubes or squares is recommended to help your kids digest better. If you’d like to make a tasty cheese sandwich for your kids, try this cucumber, tomato and cheddar sandwich recipe we found.

Just remember if you’re packing a sandwich to use “whole grain” or “whole wheat” bread instead of white, because these contain more natural vitamins, minerals and fiber.
 

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts in the glass jar , collection, clipping path

Nuts and seeds are arguably the healthiest protein source. They’re an excellent source of healthy fats, vitamin D, calcium, fiber and folic acid. Folic acid plays a major role in preserving gum tissues and preventing periodontal disease.

Despite being rich in Vitamin E, the shape and texture of almonds put damaging stress on teeth when kids bite down. So if your kids love almonds, try to find almond slivers next time you’re at the grocery.
 

Fruits

5 varieties of apples: Granny smith, Golden delicious, Gala, Macintosh and Red delicious. Larger files include clipping path.

Fibrous fruits—or fruits high in fiber—act almost like a natural toothbrush while you bite and chew. Apples, bananas and strawberries are all a healthy substitution for dessert in addition to being relatively cheap, easy to prepare, and very fulfilling.

If your kids aren’t too keen on fruits yet, make fruits more enjoyable with a healthy yogurt fruit dip or try cutting apples into fun shapes.

However, be careful your children aren’t eating too many fruits – especially dried fruit or fruit juice, which contain lots of artificial sugars. And try to stay away from most “fruit-flavored” beverages and snacks.
 

Water

Bottles of water various sizes 1.5L, 1L, 500ml, 300ml. With clipping paths.

Growing up, we all probably drank way more juice than we should have because our parents thought it was a healthy alternative to soda. But the science is out – fruit juice is just as bad for you as soda.

Encourage your children to drink the recommended amount of water daily. Depending on their age, they should be having 5-10 glasses of water each day.

Water not only energizes rehydrates your organs and muscles, it also helps create more saliva in your mouth. More saliva means less tooth decay and stronger tooth enamel.
 

Putting it all together

We know every parent would love to feed their children healthy foods for every meal, but we also know that budgeting is a very real concern. So even if you can only afford apple slices, cherry tomatoes, a handful of nuts, cheese sandwich and tap water, you’re really helping your kids build a foundation for healthier futures.

school-provided lunch of mystery meat, instant mashed potatoes, applesauce and chocolate milk is unfortunately just not a healthy alternative to homemade lunch. And though school lunches are often provided at a discount, packing your own is possible for only $2-$3/day.

Good luck! And if you ever have more questions about teeth-healthy foods or lunchbox ideas, let us know when you’re back for your child’s 6-month checkup. Happy eating!

Healthy lunch boxes with sandwich and fresh vegetables, bottle of water, nuts and fruits on rustic wooden background. top view

Friendly new faces at Howard Family Dental!

If you’ve visited our Brunswick, Hinesville and Beaufort offices this past month, you’ve most likely met our newest doctors!

We’ve had the pleasure of adding Dr. Kevin Farr to our Brunswick office, Dr. Kevin Hardy to our Beaufort, SC office and Dr. Joseph Merritt to our Hinesville office. If you haven’t met these wonderful new doctors yet, allow us to introduce you…

  • Meet Dr. Kevin Farr:
    • Dr. Farr is originally from Springville, Utah.
    • He graduated from Brigham Young University and The University of Louisville, School of Dentistry.
    • He previously worked as an engineer at a manufacturing company and his engineering background gives him a unique perspective to dental treatment, methodologies and dentist-patient relationships.
    • Dr. Farr’s road to dentistry began when he realized the opportunity to involve himself in humanitarian work and the significant, yet personal, impact it can have on someone’s life.
    • Dr. Farr sees patients at our Brunswick office Monday – Thursday.
    • Request an Appointment with Dr. Farr or Dr. Kasik in Brunswick
  • Meet Dr. Kevin Hardy:
    • Dr. Hardy is originally from  Danville, Virginia.
    • He is a graduate of The University of Notre Dame and Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Dentistry.
    • He also earned his MBA from the Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Business and JD degree from the Cleveland Marshall College of Law.
    • Dr. Hardy offers a full-scope of services and a holistic approach to dentistry.
    • Dr. Hardy sees patients Monday- Thursday at the Beaufort office.
    • Request an Appointment with Dr. Hardy or Dr. Hankla in Beaufort, SC.
  • Meet Dr. Joseph Merritt:
    • Dr. Merritt is a Roswell, Georgia native and proud alumni of the University of Georgia
    • He graduated from the University of Louisville, School of Dentistry.
    • Dr. Merritt has been lead to serve on a few dental mission trips, including a trip to Nicaragua and two trips to the Helping Hands Clinic in Jamaica.
    • When he is not practicing dentistry, Dr. Merritt spends his time singing tunes on his guitar, staying active and spending quality time with family and friends.
    • Dr. Merritt will be seeing patients Tuesday – Friday at our Hinesville office.
    • Request an Appointment with Dr. Merritt or Dr. Kellner in Hinesville.
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