Let’s Talk About Teeth!

Healthy teeth are an important part of a healthy body.  Spending a few minutes each day taking care of your teeth keeps your smile beautiful and your body happy.

Did you know?

Children who visit the dentist before they are four years old are less likely to need dental procedures (crown placement, restorations, tooth removal) compared with children who start seeing the dentist at a later age.

 

Keep Those Pearly Whites Shining Bright

  • Clean teeth twice daily with a soft toothbrush
  • Brush for two minutes each time (sing the ABCs in your head three times!)
  • Start flossing once per day as soon as teeth begin to touch
  • Parents should supervise brushing until at least kids are able to tie their shoes

A word about fluoride:

  • Use fluoride-containing toothpaste for all children with teeth – For children less than three years, use an amount the size of a grain of rice. For children over three, use an amount the size of a pea!
  • Most of the water in the Spokane area is non-fluoridated, consider a fluoride supplement – ask your doctor!
  • Have fluoride painted on your teeth as often as recommended by your dentist or doctor

Watch What You Eat – Your Teeth Are Counting On It!

  • Frequent snacking and sugary beverages during the day may increase the risk of dental decay
    • If you plan on snacking on sugar-containing drink (soda/juice/sports drink), drink it within a limited time instead of slowly sipping during the day
    • Try to give your mouth a three hour break between sugary foods/drinks
  • After sugary foods and beverages try rinsing your mouth with water or chewing sugarless gum
  • Watch out for: hard candy, gummy candy/vitamins, cough drops, fruit leathers

A Moment for the Young Ones:

  • The first tooth usually appears around six months of age
  • Think about scheduling the first dental visit at the one year birthday
  • Start a training cup (sippy cup) at six months. Plan to ditch all bottles by one year

Factors that increase the risk of developing dental decay:

  • Bottle use beyond 12 months of age
  • Using a sippy cup throughout the day (especially for juice/sugary drinks)
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Using a bottle at bed time
  • Breastfeeding past 12 months if nursing overnight

By Dr. Baca, MD

Tips for summertime fun!

Go outside! The warmer months are a wonderful opportunity to explore, play and learn outdoors.

Here are a few tips to stay safe in the sun:

Bright Sun and Healthy Skin
• Keep your skin protected from sun damage to prevent sunburns, skin cancers and wrinkles later in life. Remember that small amounts of sun exposure over time causes most sun damage – It is important to protect yourself every day, not just on long pool days.
• Use sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 or higher, protects from UVA and UVB rays, and is water resistant if you will be spending time in the water. Re-apply every 2 hours and after getting out of the pool!
• Fight heat exhaustion! It can start slowly but become serious quickly.
– Drink plenty of fluids on hot days, especially during time in the sun.
– Be careful about moderate to heavy exercise at midday.
– If overheating, have your child lie down in the shade and seek medical care immediately if concerned.

 

Hiking and Camping
• There is Poison Ivy all around in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. Don’t forget: “leaves of three, let them be”.
• Check for ticks! Lyme disease, which ticks can carry, is not common in Washington. It is still important to examine for ticks and remove them quickly if they are found. Be sure to check behind the ears, scalp, under the arms and groin.
• DEET-containing insect repellent is safe for children older than 2 months old. Use 10-30% and apply one time per day. Do not apply to the face, or to the hands of young children.

 

Water Activities
• Learn about water safety. Swimming is fun and can be a lifelong healthy activity, but it is very important to know how to stay safe around the water. Nearly 1,000 kids drown each year – most in swimming pools.
• Plan to enroll in swimming lessons after the child turns four years old. Even if a child knows how to swim, all children deserve close observation when around water.
• Life vests are very important for kids to wear whenever they are near water.
• Install a fence around a pool if there is one in the home.
• If there is concern for drowning, pull the child out of the water, call for help/911, and if child is not breathing start CPR if you have been trained.

Learn more by asking your pediatrician!

by Marcus Baca, MD – Pediatrician at Valley Clinic

Autism, what is it?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others. Your Pediatrician can start to recognize these symptoms between 1-2 years old and should be testing for concerns. ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviors and there is a wide spectrum as to how it impacts each child’s life.

There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and early diagnosis/intervention and access to appropriate services/supports lead to significantly improved outcomes.

Many of the early signs of Autism deal with difficulties with social interaction. 

The range and severity of symptoms can vary widely. Common symptoms include:

  • difficulty with communication
  • difficulty with social interactions
  • obsessive interests
  • repetitive behaviors
  • difficulty making eye contact
  • poor motor skills’ and sensory sensitivities (overly sensitive to the feel of clothing or texture of foods).

A person with ASD may follow many of these behaviors or just a few, or many others as well. The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is applied based on analysis of all behaviors and their severity and how they impact that child life and learning.

Autism is treatable.

Children do not “outgrow” autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes. For more information on developmental milestones, visit the CDC’s “Know the Signs. Act Early” site.

  • Lack of or delay in spoken language
  • Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
  • Little or no eye contact
  • Lack of interest in peer relationships
  • Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
  • Persistent fixation on parts of objects

Early recognition, as well as behavioral, educational, and family therapies may reduce symptoms and support development and learning.

Cold or Allergies?

Spring is here and we are all looking forward to longer days and warmer weather. However, this time of year can also bring seasonal allergies for many.

There are two types of allergies, year round and seasonal. Allergy symptoms that last throughout the year are often caused by indoor allergens such as pet dander or dust mites. Seasonal allergies, or allergic rhinitis, occur when the immune system reacts to harmless substances including mold, dust mites, pet dander and pollen. In response, the body releases histamine, which can cause nasal drainage, sneezing, coughing, throat irritation, and itchy watery eyes.

Seasonal allergies are usually related to pollen from weeds, grass and trees. You may also notice that allergy symptoms are worse at certain times of day. Someone allergic to dust may have symptoms when they first wake up in the morning while someone who has a grass allergy may experience symptoms after being outside.

Because the symptoms of allergic rhinitis are similar to the common cold, it can sometimes be difficult to determine what is causing symptoms.


Questions to Consider:

  • Length of symptoms. The common cold typically resolves within 2 weeks. If symptoms last longer than this, it may be time to look at allergies as a possible cause.
  • Do you have a fever? Allergies do not cause a fever, so if your symptoms are accompanied by an elevated temperature, it is safe to believe you have virus.
  • Do you have eye symptoms? Allergy symptoms usually include itchy, watery and irritated eyes, while the common cold does not.

 


To diagnose allergies, your provider may order allergy testing through a blood or skin test. Many medications and lifestyle modifications can help control allergy symptoms. See your healthcare provider if you suspect allergies or have any questions or concerns about your symptoms or condition.

Is it a Cold or Seasonal Allergies?

Spring is around the corner and we are all looking forward to longer days and warmer weather. However, this time of year can also bring seasonal allergies for many families and children.

Seasonal allergies, or allergic rhinitis, occur when the immune system reacts to harmless substances including mold, dust mites, pet dander and pollen. In response, the body releases histamine, which can cause nasal drainage, sneezing, coughing, throat irritation, and itchy watery eyes.

 

Allergy symptoms that last throughout the year are often caused by indoor allergens such as pet dander or dust mites. Seasonal allergies are usually related to pollen from weeds, grass and trees. Parents may also notice that their child’s allergy symptoms are worse at certain times of day. A child that is allergic to dust may have symptoms when they first wake up in the morning while a child that has a grass allergy may experience symptoms after they have been playing outside.

 

Because the symptoms of allergic rhinitis are similar to the common cold, it can sometimes be difficult to determine what is causing a child’s symptoms.

 

Questions to Consider:

  • How long has your child had symptoms? The common cold typically resolve within 2 weeks, so if your child has symptoms that last longer than this it may be time to look at allergies as a possible cause.
  • Does your child have a fever? Allergies do not cause a fever, so if your child’s symptoms are accompanied by an elevated temperature it is safe to assume that they have a virus.
  • Does your child have eye symptoms? Allergy symptoms usually include itchy, watery and irritated eyes while the common cold does not. Dark circles under the eyes are also a common sign of allergies in children.
  • Do any of your child’s playmates or siblings have similar symptoms? If you have noticed that other children that your child has been in close contact with have similar symptoms, a virus is the most likely cause.
  • Is there a family history of allergies? Allergies are more common in families with a history of allergies.

 

To diagnose allergies, your child’s provider may order allergy testing through a blood or skin test. Many medications and lifestyle modifications can help control allergy symptoms. See your child’s healthcare provider if you suspect allergies or have any questions or concerns about your child’s symptoms or condition.

Heart Pearls – Statins

In honor of February being American Heart Month, I’m sharing pearls from my conversations with family members about cardiovascular disease. Even though I am an Ivy-League trained nurse practitioner with nearly two decades of experience of keeping patients healthy, I’ve found that even my loved ones doubt my perspective until it is validated by their own medical providers, the CDC, or even (shudder) a celebrity interview.

 

“Ask for a statin,” I said to my husband.  His cholesterol had been climbing on his annual work health screening and starting a regular exercise program hadn’t done anything to bring it down.  Long-term research about statins not only shows that they are proven to reduce incidents of heart attacks and strokes, but that they also reduce the incidence of certain types of cancers.  They are not for everybody (especially women at risk of pregnancy), but my experience has shown that very few people have side effects while on statins. Those that do can usually reduce their side effects by taking a daily CoQ10 supplement  along with the statin.

 

Even small amounts of extra cholesterol can accumulate in the blood vessels over the years and lead to hardening of the arteries, so treat slight elevations just as aggressively as very high elevations. When it comes to cholesterol management, it is worth investing in your long-term health.

 

As for my husband, he eventually had a conversation with his own provider, and I had a happy-dance when he came home with a Pravachol prescription.

 

By Ginger Blake, ARNP at North County Clinic

Is a Medicare Advantage plan the right choice for me?

Does original Medicare leave you wanting more? A Medicare Advantage plan might be a better option. Medicare Advantage plans combine Medicare parts A, B, and D into one plan and are referred to as “MA Plans” or “Part C”. These plans are offered by private companies and approved by Medicare, and Medicare pays these companies to manage your benefits. Medicare Advantage plans must cover all of the services that original Medicare covers and may also offer extra benefits such as dental care, eyeglasses, or wellness programs. Eligibility requires that you have Medicare Part A and Part B, and live in the plan’s service area.

Each Medicare Advantage plan has different premiums and costs for services, so it is important to compare plans in your area and understand plan costs and benefits before you join. Understanding if your doctors are in the plan’s network, and whether your prescription drugs are covered under the plan are some of the most important things to check before enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan.

The Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors, or SHIBA, are an excellent resource for helping to determine if a Medicare Advantage plan is right for you. Contact SHIBA of Washington at 1-800-562-6900, and they will put in you in contact with a local representative.

CHAS Health’s Patient Services Coordinators (PSCs) can assist with applications for cost-savings programs that help with monthly premiums and prescription drug costs. Call CHAS Health at 509.444.8200 to schedule an appointment with a PSC at any of our CHAS locations. Walk-ins are also welcome. Come see us today!

Tips for a Healthy Fall

Later, summer.
It’s been real. But, it’s time to welcome back short days, crisp air and colorful leaves of fall time. Time to stow away swimsuits in favor of sweaters for apple picking. Fall is incredible in the PNW; beautiful weather, colorful leaves and fall foliage make it for a great time of year for both exercise and wonderfully fresh seasonal foods. Here are some tips to make your fall a healthy and happy one:

All hail The Great Pumpkin!
Pumpkins are more than just pies and jack-o-lanterns, they are rich with vitamins A and C. Of course pumpkin seeds are a wonderful and healthy fall treat. There are a ton of possibilities with pumpkins. Check some of these healthy recipes out:

12 Healthy Pumpkin Recipes

Get your flu shot and yearly check-up.
This one is pretty simple. You don’t want to be sniffling, aching, coughing and sneezing all winter long. Get your shot, keep the flu away. Schedule your appointment today by calling 509.444.8200

Boost your immune system! Hydrate throughout the day. adequate hydration has a huge impact on your immune system. Water helps all of your body’s systems function at optimum levels. Eat foods that add to your immune system with probiotics and vitamin C such as yogurt, oranges, peppers, garlic, yes even pumpkins can pack vitamin C.

Get outdoors. The bright colorful leaves on the trees add a visual treat to your walks as do the crunching of leaves under foot. What better season to put on a beanie and get active? In addition, outdoor time increases vitamin D levels, which can make you happier and improve concentration according to Harvard Medical School

Keep the treats in check. When you are stuck inside with delicious Halloween candy everywhere, it can be hard to resist eating 10 mini Snickers in a row. Don’t resist entirely, just don’t become a sugar zombie. Also, when it comes to game days make healthier choices by setting out veggies and dip instead of chips. You can also cut some of your favorite unhealthy snacks in to smaller portions.