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National Children’s Dental Health Month – Taking Care of Your Child’s Teeth

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Written by Sunnie Deng

Did you know that baby teeth are as important as adult teeth? When baby teeth first appear, they are already at risk for decay or cavities. Although baby teeth are not permanent, it is still important to take care of them because they help your child chew and talk.

In some cases, an infant’s or toddler’s tooth decay becomes so severe that the teeth cannot be saved and need to be removed (this is sometimes called baby bottle tooth decay). The good news is that there are many ways to prevent tooth decay. Here are a few tips.

Cleaning your child’s teeth

  • Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth by wiping the gums with a clean, damp gauze pad or washcloth.
  • After feeding, rub the gums and teeth with a damp gauze pad or baby’s toothbrush.
  • Caregivers should start brushing a child’s teeth as soon as they appear in the mouth using grain-of-rice size amount of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Use pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste for children 3-6 years old. Children under 6 should be supervised and helped to ensure they do it properly and do not swallow toothpaste.
  • Caregivers can teach their child to floss when all the baby teeth have come in, usually around 2- 2 ½ years old.

Your child’s first dental visit

  • Bring your child to the dentist as soon as the first tooth begins to appear.
  • The American Dental Association recommends that a child’s first visit to the dentist should take place within 6 months of first tooth appearance, and by the age of 1 at the latest.
  • Try to schedule an appointment in the morning when the child is more rested and tends to be more cooperative.
  • Never bribe your child or use dental visit as a punishment.
  • The earlier your child sees a dentist, the easier it will be to prevent tooth decay.

More tips on children’s dental health

  • If your child needs a comforter, give a clean pacifier. Never give a pacifier that has any sugary liquid on it.
  • Dilute juices to reduce sugar your child drinks.
  • Avoid candy, dried fruits, and other sticky surgery items that will cling to your child’s teeth.

Help your child prevent tooth decay and other dental problems with good dental habits, regular dental checkups, and giving surgery treats in moderation. Be an active role model and encourage your child to practice good oral health habits for life!

Sunnie Deng is the dental program associate from the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from New York University and currently pursuing an MPH from Mount Sinai Medical School.

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Tray of Togetherness – Healthy Treats for the Lunar New Year

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Written by Bonnie Tse.

For many Chinese families, Lunar New Year is a time to feast on delicious traditional foods, many of which signify health and prosperity. One such food is Chuen-Hop – or Tray of Togetherness – that symbolizes a sweet or happy start to the New Year.

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This tray of eight kinds of sweets and snacks is often offered to house guests. Traditionally, this tray was filled with Chinese favorites like melon seeds, peanuts, and dried lotus root. But nowadays, many people buy prepackaged trays that are often filled with candies and other artificially-flavored sweets. Why not celebrate the New Year with fresh foods for a fresh start? Make your own tray with these nutritious treats:

  • Dried fruits such as dates, raisins and apricots are rich in fiber to keep you full and their natural sweetness is sure to satisfy every little kid’s sweet tooth. Choose dried fruits with no added sugar and preservatives.
  • Fresh fruits are a better source of vitamins and fiber. Kumquats, clementines and tangerines are not only Lunar New Year favorites, but they are high in vitamin C, a nutrient that helps boost your immune system.
  • Unsalted nuts such as pistachios, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and almonds have fiber and good fats that can help lower bad cholesterol.
  • Puffed brown rice crackers are good for crunch and good for your heart! The fiber found in these whole grain snacks help move waste out of the body. Eating rice during the New Year is also associated with good fortune.

For a healthy start to the Lunar New Year, make a tray for your guests or as a New Year gift for friends and family. Be a role model for the family by preparing healthier dishes like steamed instead of fried dumplings on New Year’s Eve, and make sure to include vegetable dishes at each meal. Enjoy sweet rice cakes in smaller portions and have more fresh fruit. Spend quality time with your loved ones by taking a brisk walk after dinner, exercising at home or looking for the first full moon together.

From all of us at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, we wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous Lunar New Year!

Written by Bonnie Tse. Bonnie Tse is part of the Health Education Department at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science from Hunter College.


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Love Your Heart for American Heart Month – Protect Your Heart from the Cold

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Written by Rena Mei

February is American Heart Month, and so we want to give you some tips on loving your heart during the winter.

You may know that cold weather can increase your chances of catching the cold or flu, but did you know that the cold can also put a strain on your heart? When it is cold outside, your heart has to work much harder to keep your body warm. Low temperatures can increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and even your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

  • Stay indoors during storms. Try to stay indoors when it snows or gets too cold. Ask for help with outdoor chores, such as shoveling or buying groceries.
  • Check the weather forecast to plan ahead. If you know the weather will be worse later in the week, stock up on groceries so you don’t have to go out during bad conditions.
  • Continue to exercise, but not in the cold. Regular exercise is important to a healthy heart, but exercising out in the cold can be dangerous. Do stretches and indoor exercises for about 30 minutes each day to stay healthy. Try these chair exercises that we have on our website.
  • Stay warm and dry at all times. When you do go outside, wear plenty of layers. Put on a hat and thermal socks to keep your head and feet warm. Change out of wet clothing right away to prevent your body from losing heat.
  • Eat healthy. Regularly consume hot meals and drinks to keep your body warm, but don’t eat more than usual. Portion control can help you keep a healthy diet and a healthy heart.

Visit our website to learn more about loving your heart this month!

Rena Mei is a health educator at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a bachelor’s degree in Human Evolutionary Biology and Chemistry from Harvard University.