Discover more about kid-related health matters from the experts.
Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body
By Dr. Cuong T. Phan, Phan-tastic Smiles
A dental check-up can prevent disease in the mouth while shedding light on other health issues. Bacteria build-up on the teeth can lead to infected gums, which causes inflammation that can have a profound effect on the rest of the body.
Inflammation that begins in the mouth can weaken the body’s ability to control blood sugar. Due to a lack of insulin, people with diabetes have trouble processing sugar, and high blood sugar provides the ideal environment for infection to grow. By managing one of these issues, you can help to get the other under control.
Many patients with heart disease also have periodontitis, possibly because inflammation in the mouth can cause inflammation in the blood vessels. This increases the risk for a heart attack in adults because a smaller amount of blood is able to travel through an inflamed blood vessel, which raises blood pressure and puts you at risk for heart disease. Inflammation also increases the risk for clot formation in the blood vessels.
Digestion begins when you open your mouth to take a bite of food. Any issues that arise in the mouth can also affect your digestive system, potentially causing illnesses like irritable bowel syndrome. Digestive diseases can also lead to sores inside your mouth, and the gum tissue or inner cheeks can become swollen.
Since your mouth can often be a window into what is going on inside the rest of your body, it’s important to take care of your teeth. Make sure to brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and visit your dentist for regular cleanings and check-ups. If you keep your mouth is healthy, the rest of your body will follow.
Staying Active on Spring Break
By Shaista S. Safder, MD, Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children Center for Digestive Health and Nutrition
Parents, take note. Spring break is coming up fast. Help your children have a healthy spring break by planning activities that will keep them physically active and off the couch. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that school-age children participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.
You can plan many types of activities that involve both mental and physical exercise. Options include home projects, field trips, hobbies and sports. Involve your children in planning these activities to get them excited about their time off from school. Here are some ideas to get you started:
• Build a tree house
• Build a pet home or a birdhouse
• Plant a garden in the backyard
• Go camping in the backyard
• Play team sports with friends (kickball, basketball, soccer, etc.)
• Play games in the park (tag, hopscotch, etc.)
• Have a pajama dance party and sleepover for friends
• Go on a nature hike to explore and collect things from nature
• Play active video games such as Wii Fit for indoor exercise
• Take field trips to the zoo, museum, science center, etc.
Remember to make activities age appropriate and appealing to your child. And don’t forget to have fun! To learn about the Arnold Palmer Hospital Healthy Lifestyles Program, visit: www.ArnoldPalmerHospital.com/HealthyLifestyles
A Guide to Mental Health in Teens
By Lyndsay Fogarty
With thoughts of earning good grades, acing the big tests, balancing extracurricular activities, fitting in with classmates and getting into the college of their choice swirling around in their heads, it’s no wonder today’s youth is stressed out. For some, the pressure could lead to feelings of anxiety, depression and other disorders. Add in a breakup with a significant other or fight with a close friend, and it could begin to feel like things will never get better.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five teens and young adults live with a mental health condition. Half of them develop the condition by age 14 and three-quarters by age 24. The consequences of a lack of treatment are vast. NAMI lists suicide as the third leading cause of death in the U.S. for individuals aged 10-14 and the second leading cause of death for people aged 15-24.
The organization outlines these 10 common warning signs of a mental health condition:
1. Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks
2. Seriously trying to harm or kill oneself or making plans to do so
3. Severe out-of-control, risk-taking behaviors
4. Sudden, overwhelming fear for no reason
5. Not eating, throwing up or using laxatives to lose weight; significant weight loss or weight gain
6. Seeing, hearing or believing things that are not real
7. Repeatedly using drugs or alcohol
8. Drastic changes in mood, behaviors, personality or sleeping habits
9. Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still
10. Intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities
For parents, being aware of these signs is the first step in getting their child the care they need. It’s important to vocalize that their feelings are legitimate and to create a safe space for them to share those feelings in a healthy way. With the support of those closest to them, as well as the help of a specialist if necessary, today’s youth can better handle the pressure they face.