Your kiddos are so excited this time of year! Anticipating the upcoming holidays is contagious, and we have some crafting you can share with your children to use their imaginations and energy to create lovely decorations. We will add some simple recipes you can make with your children for snacks or get-togethers this season. These activities are meant to catch your child's attention and encourage them to assist you in preparing for the next few weeks!

Kid Friendly Breakfasts

When school is out for your children, or your toddlers are looking forward to a day of excitement, who is out of bed first? They are, of course! Here are a few suggestions on breakfast foods to get them involved. Maybe, if you are lucky, the older children can make them by themselves and surprise you with breakfast in bed!

You can make almost anything out of pancakes. Stack star shapes to create a tree, smaller, round shapes to decorate with fruit or cereals for bulb ornaments, or even cut-out shapes to build mock gingerbread houses. Check out this site for these and other ideas to get your day started with the "most important meal of the day!"

Snacks to Enjoy!

The holidays are all about appearance and taste when it comes to food! Cute healthy snacks are fun for your children to share, especially if they get to help make them.

Think of healthy foods in the traditional colors:

  • Red- Red bell peppers, Strawberries, Raspberries, Tomato, Apples, Watermelon
  • Green- Green bell peppers, Celery, Lettuce, Broccoli, Spinach, Avocado, Honeydew Melon, Kiwi, Apples
  • White- Banana, Cream Cheese, Yogurt, Tortillas

Mixing and matching these foods can make a colorful statement. Other colors, such as yellow and blue for Hannukah, can be added with ribbon, food coloring, and even the containers in which the snacks are served. If these healthy options are readily available to your children, sugary snacks may never enter their minds. A simple ribbon and cut-out hat can make a wrapped cheese stick into the cutest snowman!

 

Ready for a Party?

Charcuterie boards are all the rage now. Let your child help you make a festive presentation for a holiday party or simple get-together with the neighbors. How you and your child arrange the finger foods for the board can be as creative as a holiday shape or just putting the foods where they fit. The display can incorporate foods from any category. From wreaths and tree shapes to a humble array of cheeses and crackers, these ideas should inspire you!

Because classroom parties for your child usually require pre-packaged foods, you may think your options are limited. But think of how many designs you can do with whole fruits, or packaged cheese sticks, pepperoni sticks, and crackers. You and your child can configure any shape that inspires your creativity!

 

Meals for the Holidays

What kid does not like pizza? Hardly any child will reject the idea of a pizza-themed meal! Have them make their own by providing wedge-shaped pizza dough and a variety of toppings from which they can choose. Use tomatoes, pepperoni, bell peppers, ham, pineapple, or any other food they like on their pizza. They decorate it, and then you place it in the oven using the instructions on the dough recipe. Out comes a pizza slice specially created for them!

For dessert, follow up using the theme of making a fruit pizza with sugar-free cookie dough, with cream cheese topping, in wedge shapes, or a wreath of fruit from which they can sample a slice.

Decorations for the Holidays!

Many families have traditional decorations that they use yearly to celebrate the winter holidays. Christmas, Hannukah, New Year's, and other holiday embellishments can be fun to add to or substitute for those we may need to replace. No matter their age, your children can create lovely décor for your home or as a gift for someone special. Here are a few ideas for decorating with your kiddos to get them involved in the holiday season!

Salt Dough Ornaments

One of the easiest ways to make ornaments for the tree and décor for the home is with salt dough. This simple recipe can be used like clay to model figures, cut into shapes with cookie cutters to paint, and press shapes into for fun embellishments. When you add cinnamon to the mix, your ornaments can make your decorations smell great! Ginger and cinnamon can make gingerbread person shapes to string together for a festive garland for the tree or mantle. Your child can push the limits of their imagination, creating a masterpiece for your home or a gift for someone special!

Joyful Pinecones

The adventure begins with your child going on a walk through a forest (maybe during a family outing to Flagstaff?) to collect pinecones for ornaments they can be happy to create and give to their family and friends. You can also buy them at many craft stores. Adding a red pompom, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, and other materials can transform a simple pinecone into a cute reindeer!

Another easy ornament to make is to paint and design an animal with the pinecone. Instructions here are for a tiger, but you could change the colors and make any animal you want.

Pinecone snowmen are so sweet and can be made with different designs so that no snowman is the same!

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Our dentists and orthodontists at Jungle Roots see a multitude of conditions that are not so uncommon. Treating these conditions is what we do! Orthodontic needs impact many children. Regular appointments are the first step to identifying, monitoring, and addressing these issues. We will discuss a few teeth configurations that may need attention to allow your child to have their best smile!

 

 

Malocclusions

The word "malocclusion" encompasses many of the most seen problems with crooked and crowded teeth and "bad bites." Children may struggle with one or multiple issues when their teeth come in. It is often the result of their genes or environment and can develop more as the child grows. It may also be caused by trauma to the jaw. Stanford Medicine Children's Health states that children who suck their thumbs or fingers after the age of five have a greater chance of developing malocclusion. A child with minimal space between their primary (baby) teeth or crowded teeth when the permanent teeth appear are at risk, too, as they need more space to erupt (1). Only an orthodontist can evaluate and treat these irregularities. They will decide if x-rays are required to see the internal tissues, the bones, and your child's teeth. The orthodontist may take impressions, or imprints of your child's teeth may be made with a mold to assess the malocclusion and decide if it needs to be fixed. 

Malocclusions can cause your child to have problems with eating or speaking and can contribute to them grinding their teeth or being mouth breathers. Jaw joint problems such as TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders can start or progress, as well as loss of teeth too soon or very late, tooth decay, or gum disease as a result of malocclusion.

Malocclusions are classified by type and severity and may need x-rays to determine in what class it falls.

  • Class 1: In this class, the upper and lower jaws are relatively well aligned with the skull, but the other teeth are either too far apart or too crowded.
  • Class 2: This is seen when the lower jaw is underdeveloped. Overbites are common class 2 malocclusions.
  • Class 3: Underbites that are severe in nature are Class 3. In this class, the lower jaw is larger than the upper jaw (2).

These misalignments are most commonly treated with the same or similar modifications by our orthodontists.

Here are some of the most common orthodontic issues and treatments most often recommended. Be aware, though, that every child is unique and some may need varying treatments to create the healthiest possible smile. These are best treated in children seven to ten years of age or their teen years:

Crowded Teeth

Crowded teeth may happen when your child's teeth, whether primary or permanent, don’t fit well in their jaw. Sometimes a permanent tooth appears before the baby tooth comes out, which does not allow enough space for both. Some genetic conditions may also affect the jaw and the teeth's formation. 

Treatment: A palatal expander may be required, and your child may also need braces or a retainer to align the teeth or keep them in place.  In certain instances, one or more teeth may need to be removed to treat the crowding of teeth. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary when the jaw bones are affected (1).

 

Too Much Space Between Teeth

The technical term for this irregularity is diastema (a gap between the teeth). This gap does not usually cause any oral health issues but can be attributed to missing teeth or teeth that are too small. In addition, the band of tissue that connects the lips to the gum (the frenum) can be oversized and cause this opening in the teeth. Another cause may be an abnormal swallowing reflex. This happens when your child presses their tongue against their front teeth instead of the roof of their mouth when swallowing. Repeating this act can produce a gap to form over time from the pressure. 

Treatment: Braces can align the teeth and move them closer together. We may recommend a frenectomy to release the thick connective tissue between the lip and gums. Dental bridges or implants can be added to fill a gap caused by missing teeth (3).

 

Missing Permanent Teeth

Much like diastema, when a child is missing one or more of their permanent teeth, it can be caused by genetic disorders. Hypodontia is when your child is born missing one to six teeth. It may interfere with the child's ability to eat and speak. Usually, the orthodontist can diagnose this disorder with x-rays.

Treatment: Braces are used to re-align the teeth in some cases. Other possibilities include partial dentures, dental bridges, and implants (3). 

 

Overbite

Most people have a small overbite, and it usually is not a problem. However, when your child's upper teeth protrude out too far over their lower front teeth, it needs to be corrected. This malocclusion is usually minor, but a severe uncorrected overbite can lead to breathing challenges, difficulty chewing, jaw pain (TMJ), and speech problems. It can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. An overbite can be genetic, especially if a familial trait is related to jaw shape. Other causes can include bruxism (tooth grinding), thumb or pacifier sucking, or a condition called nonnutritive sucking behavior (NNSB) occurring past the age of three. Tongue-thrusting is another cause; the tongue presses too far forward into the mouth. To prevent an overbite, limit pacifier use and discourage thumb-sucking in older children. 

Treatment: Correcting your child's overbite may involve using a palatal expander, which modifies growth to reposition the jaw. Braces can move the alignment of the teeth slowly to correct an overbite. Retainers keep the teeth aligned after braces (4). 

 

Underbite

An underbite is sometimes a genetic condition or might be caused by mouth trauma. Excessive use of an oral device such as a pacifier can also lead to an underbite. It can lead to a higher risk of TMJ, mouth breathing, heavy snoring, and sleep apnea. 

Treatment: Because the jaw is still somewhat moldable as it grows, an underbite can be treated much like we've discussed with the other malocclusions. Braces, retainers, and palatal expanders are options for treatment.

 

Open bite

An open bite malocclusion is when the front top and bottom teeth do not meet and are both angled at an outward slant when the child's mouth is closed. Reasons for an open bite include thumb or pacifier sucking, tongue thrusting, a bone development problem, or TMJ. 

Treatment: The remedy for an open bite can be as simple as a behavioral modification when your child has baby teeth and starting to get permanent teeth. Discouraging extended thumb-sucking or pacifier use can eliminate this issue if this action is the cause. If there is another basis for an open bite, braces or another oral device may correct this issue. 

 

Ectopic Teeth

An ectopic tooth erupts in an unusual place away from its normal location, or is misaligned in the normal place. This includes teeth that sit too high in the gum or that point out toward the lip. It is fairly common for canine teeth to erupt out of place, but molars, incisors, and wisdom teeth can also be ectopic. Sometimes, an ectopic tooth can be left alone, other times, it will need treatment as they can cause pain, tooth decay, gum disease, poor bite, and misalignment of other teeth.

Treatment: Treatment depends on the severity of the problem and which tooth is affected. Ectopic canines usually need to be treated with braces and/or palatal expanders. Early treatment of ectopic canine teeth is vital, as their positioning impacts many other teeth and the jaw. Many cases of ectopic molars are easily corrected by orthodontic separators, but severe cases may require the extraction of a tooth or surgical treatment. Ectopic wisdom teeth will often be removed. 

 

Closing the Gaps

Malocclusions are typically detected by the dentist when your child starts seeing them after their baby (primary) teeth start coming in or as their permanent teeth are erupting. Our orthodontists may be consulted at this time to help modify or correct the malocclusion or give instructions for you to discourage behaviors that may cause the misalignment. Untreated malocclusions can be detrimental to the child’s dental health as they increase the chance of developing cavities or gum disease because the teeth are more challenging to keep clean. Early treatment can help correct a condition before it worsens.

It is important to set up your child’s first dentist appointment when their primary teeth start to erupt and schedule regular six-month appointments after that. This allows us to identify and monitor any condition that may develop and, when necessary, provide treatment before it worsens. Our dental and orthodontic staff look forward to helping your child enjoy a lifetime of healthy teeth!

 

References

  1. Malocclusion in Children. Stanford Medicine Children's Health. Accessed November 14, 2022. https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=malocclusion-90-P01860
  2. Malocclusion. Cleveland Clinic. Last reviewed November 8, 2021. Accessed November 15, 2022. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22010-malocclusion
  3. Diastema. Cleveland Clinic. Last reviewed July 15, 2022. Accessed November 14, 2022. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/23477-diastema

Overbite. Cleveland Clinic. Last reviewed March 1, 2021. Accessed November 15, 2022. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21473-overbite

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Location: Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Chandler, Tempe, Gilbert, Arizona