Q&A with Dr. Martha Ann Keels of Duke Pediatric Dentistry

by Administrator 28. February 2012 16:01

February is National Children's Dental Health Month! And there is no time better than the present to highlight the importance of oral health and developing good habits at an early age. The Partnership was able to track down Martha Keels, DDS of Duke Pediatric Dentistry for a Q&A on this very important topic.  Thank you Dr. Keels for lending us your expertise!

Q: What is preventive dental care and why is it so important?

  • It saves money! Dental treatment is expensive. 
  • Children can take great pride in saying “I am cavity-free!”
  • Prevention helps you stay on the path to being cavity free and hopefully avoid having a needle shot and a drill in your mouth!

Q: What dental routine is suggested for infants whose teeth have yet to arrive?

  • Get the baby accustomed to having their mouth wiped even before the teeth arrive. Before or after the bath, use a clean washcloth and wipe the gums.
  • This also gets parents and caregivers in the habit of checking the mouth every day.
  • Make oral hygiene part of the child’s everyday routine! 

Q: At what age should children get their first dental cleaning?
Children should have a “dental home” by age one.  Typically, children have 8 teeth by then and the dentist or the dental staff can review with you and demonstrate how to properly clean these teeth.  This is usually done sitting knee to knee with the dentist and not in the dental chair. 

Q: What can parents/children expect during their first visit to the dentist?

  • Review of the families’ (both parents) dental history and the child’s medical history
  • Thorough mouth exam – pathology, cavities, saliva
  • Demonstration on proper teeth cleaning – brushing and flossing
  • Discuss appropriate type of toothpaste and fluoride needs
  • Review of the diet – avoid juice, keep WATER in the bottle or sippy cup, avoid sticky candy and foods. Avoid any food labeled SOUR --- sour candy is very acidic and burns holes in the teeth
  • Discussion about how to handle any habits like pacifier or digit sucking
  • Discussion about how to handle any dental injuries – what to do and who to call
  • Leave knowing what your child’s caries risk is – high, medium or low 

Q: What is the most common excuse parents and caregivers make for not seeking preventive dental care early enough?
Parents are often afraid their child will cry or be disruptive in the dental office, so they want to wait until the child is better behaving. Dentists are very comfortable with a crying child. It is normal for children to be scared or anxious, but typically, after we spend some time with the child and gain their trust, the child relaxes. Don’t avoid getting good information about how to care for your child.
Another reason would simply be the cost. But prevention in much cheaper than treatment! One small filling can be over $200 – OUCH!

Q: What are the long-term problems that arise from improper dental care early on?

  • Studies show that if dental caries is left untreated, children do more poorly in school as they can be distracted by discomfort or pain.
  • If you lose a baby tooth too early, then the teeth shift around and permanent teeth do not erupt nicely, which can lead to more crooked teeth.
  • If the teeth have to be restored with silver crowns, then the child has to live with silver versus natural white for several years. The last baby molars do not fall out until age 12.

Q: What are the main culprits for tooth decay in young children?

  • Eating my worry foods --- dried fruit (raisins, craisins), fruit roll-ups, fruit chews, skittles, starbursts, gummies, gummy vitamins, cereal bars and granola bars.  And, NOT FLOSSING --- these foods get stuck between the 8 molars and then you get the 8 chewing cavities.
  • Holding juice, sports drinks, lemonade or soda in the mouth – slow swallowing or drinking an acidic beverage before bed.

Q: What is the critical connection between preventive dental care and success in school for children?
Dr. Stephanie Jackson’s study showed there were more missed school days due to cavities as well as poorer school performance for children with cavities. Healthy smiles and successful lives go hand in hand. 

Data from the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion indicates that early tooth loss caused by dental decay can result in failure to thrive, impaired speech development, absence from and inability to concentrate in school, and reduced self-esteem.

Resources for parents and children
» Handout for parents on preventive dental care for toddlers
» Coloring sheet
for children, developed by the American Dental Association.

Martha Ann Keels DDS PhD, Associate Professor in Surgery and Pediatrics
Duke Pediatric Dentistry, 2711 North Duke Street, Durham, NC 27704

Play as a pathway to learning

by Administrator 24. February 2012 15:21

Did you know that play is one of the most important strategies for preparing children to enter kindergarten? Play fosters the development of physical and mental skills for young children, as well as invites creativity, imagination, and problem solving skills to flourish.

Think about how a child practices using language and new words when playing with a dollhouse, for example. As your child recreates what happens in her everyday life, she is using words and phrases she hears daily.  Or what about using blocks to build castle? This activity allows children to learn basic math concepts and problem solve using various shapes and sizes.

Read more in the latest issue of Steps to School, a joint publication of Durham’s Partnership for Children and Durham Public Schools, part of the collaborative Transition to Kindergarten Initiative.

Join the Partnership
at our upcoming Faith Initiative Lunch and Learn, which focuses on “The Serious Business of Play—Getting Children Ready for Success in School." 
Date: Tuesday, March 6th from 11:30 am to 1 pm. 
Location: Covenant Presbyterian Church, Fellowship Hall (2620 Weaver Street, Durham). 
Please RSVP to Winnie Morgan at (919) 732-1524 or winniewmorgan@juno.com.

Accepting Transition Mini-Grants now

by Administrator 20. February 2012 13:12

The Partnership, in collaboration with Durham Public Schools, is offering competitive mini-grants to support planning and implementing transition activities targeted to families with children who will be heading to kindergarten. The goal of these grants is to foster collaboration between elementary school and early childhood educators around transition to kindergarten.
Sample transition activities might include:

  • Summer Transition Camp
  • Spring/Summer Open Houses
  • Creating introductions for rising kindergartners
  • Build “going to kindergarten” into the pre-school curriculum
  • Kindergarten Classroom Visits
  • Registration Events
  • Child Care/Pre-k Visits

The application process for these mini-grants is underway and applications must be received by Wednesday, March 19th at 5 pm.  Eligible applicants include kindergarten teachers, elementary school principals, PTAs, and child care teachers and directors. Click here to download the Transition Mini-Grant now.
For questions, please contact Pat Harris at 919-403-6960, Extension 224 or email pat@dpfc.net. To learn more about our Transition to Kindergarten Initiative, click here.

Durham’s Partnership for Children received funding from Wells Fargo and Morgan Creek Foundation to support rising kindergartners across Durham County through Transition Mini-Grants and additional Transition to Kindergarten activities.

Be a part of food drive history

by Administrator 15. February 2012 12:23

Over the past two years of the North Carolina School of Science and Math’s Food Drive to benefit the Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC, the school has collected a total of 879,875 pounds of food.  Last year’s efforts made history, as the school surpassed the Guinness World Record for the largest food drive in 24 hours by collecting 559,885 pounds of food. This year – on March 3, 2012 – the NCSSM Food Drive will attempt to collect 120,125 pounds of food to surpass a three year total of ONE MILLION pounds! The one million pound mark equates to roughly 857,000 meals for those served by the Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC.

Because we at the Partnership know what a full stomach means for families and for young children, we want to help.  We are asking for your help in being part of food drive history.

From now until March 2nd, we will be collecting items for the drive here at the Partnership office and we will deliver them to NCSSM on Saturday, March 3rd.  For those who wish to contribute, a collection box will be placed in the lobby at 1201 S. Briggs Ave., Durham, NC.  Just drop off items and we’ll do the rest! See below for a list of most-needed items.

There is also an option for online donation through the NCSSM Virtual Food Drive. Every dollar donated through the NCSSM Virtual Food Drive will enable the Food Bank to directly purchase approximately 2.5 pounds of food, which will be added to the food collected at the NCSSM Food Drive.

For further questions, please contact the NCSSM Event Coordinator, Sue Anne Lewis, at ncssmfooddrive@gmail.com.

Thank you for helping NCSSM fight hunger across North Carolina!


events | health | partners

Watch the new Partnership PSA

by Administrator 14. February 2012 09:20

On this Valentine’s Day we at the Partnership would like to ask you to Show Your Love for Durham’s Children by viewing our just-released public service announcement! 

Under the guidance of a Los Angeles-based director, we worked this past November with community partners to create this short commercial feature. We connected with local parents and children ages 0-5, elementary schools, child care centers, churches, and pediatrician’s offices to make this PSA something that accurately reflects Durham. These are real Durham families and locations, and we thank each person who helped made this PSA come to life.

Durham is the community in which we live, work, and play. This is the community in which our young children are planting their feet and growing into thriving learners and leaders. We hope that you will take a moment to view this PSA and see the vision of the Partnership.  Please share this link with those who care about young children and the future of Durham County.



The importance of preventive care

by Administrator 7. February 2012 14:26

Did you know that within the first year of a child’s life, he or she should see a doctor for a well-child visit seven times?  These frequent but critical visits – known as preventive care – are the optimal way to track children’s growth and development, to administer required shots that keep children healthy, and to provide an opportunity to ask the doctor questions about children’s health.

A guest column (“Preventive care very important for healthy kids”) by Partnership Board Member and social worker at Duke Children’s Primary Care David Covington appearing in today’s Herald-Sun makes the case for preventive care. The piece promotes the importance of ensuring families have health insurance and a regular health care provider; ensuring primary care providers use standardized developmental screenings during well-child visits; and, educating parents on developmental milestones during routine well-child visits. 

Click here to read the column in full.

Link to our brochure online: Healthy & Ready: A Guide to Preventive CareSpanish version.

Click here to read more about the Partnership’s Kindergarten Health Assessment (KHA) Project.

Helping young children cope with divorce

by Administrator 6. February 2012 12:46

Though young children may not understand divorce, they are certainly aware of the significant changes to their family structure.  Even lacking comprehension, young children are affected in tremendous ways when they witness upset parents, unstable environments, and shifting living conditions (if a parent moves out). 

Infants may experience changes in their eating, sleeping, and digestive habits while their behavior may become more fretful, fearful, and anxious. Toddlers may express heightened emotions and be more likely to cry, cling to parents, and display anger or frustration. Their sleeping and toilet habits will change and they may express more baby-like behavior. Preschoolers may feel loss/sorrow, fear abandonment, feel rejection, blame themselves, have physical symptoms (tummy aches) and can become angry and attack the parent they blame.  They might even turn their anger inward and become depressed or withdrawn.

What can parents do:

  • With infants:  Keep a normal routine, remain calm in front of the baby, rest while baby sleeps, ask family or friends for help, & both parents need contact.
  • With Toddlers: Parents can nurture, reassure, continue routines, allow some “baby like” behavior but set clear limits/consequences, keep daily stress to minimum, provide alone time with child, spend time with same sex family member as the parent who does not live at home.
  • With Preschoolers: Encourage questions & concerns about separation/divorce, encourage expression of feelings by talking, physical play & art work (including anger), reassure them both parents understand and love her/her, tell repeatedly if needed he/she is not responsible for the divorce.
  • Overall suggestions:  Keep consistent routines, set reasonable limits & enforce consistently & lovingly, provide reassurance surrounding transitions, reassure both parents love them & will always be their parent, have open communication with other parent & with caregivers, and take care of self.

For more information, check out the February 2012 issue of Congregations & Early Childhood, a monthly newsletter from the Early Childhood Faith Initiative.

The Faith Initiative is a collaborative initiative between Durham’s Partnership for Children and End Poverty Durham that recognizes the role that the faith community plays in providing support to families and children.  Click here to read more about this initiative.

Join the Partnership for the Great Human Race

by Administrator 3. February 2012 14:06

The Great Human Race is a 5K walk/run held annually that allows area nonprofits to raise money for their cause.  We invite you to join the Partnership this year in our efforts to raise $1,000!

The race takes place on March 24, 2012 at Northgate Mall and begins at 8:30 am.  You can participate and show your support for young children by joining us on race day, donating to the Partnership's fundraising efforts, or by helping us spread the word.

With donations received through the Great Human Race, the Partnership will purchase resources that foster healthy and active learning environments for young children. We will donate these items to child care centers and pre-kindergarten classrooms in Durham to help promote proper nutrition and physical activity as part of a child's healthy development.

Every contribution helps.  Five dollars can provide a jump rope or a hula hoop for a young child.  Ten dollars can provide an athletic ball or a bicycle helmet.  Twenty dollars can provide a set of garden tools. One hundred dollars can provide a tricycle. 

Click here to check out our online fundraising page or to donate now.

If you wish to join us on race day or if you have any questions, please contact Jameka by phone at (919) 403-6960 ext 214 or by email at Jameka@dpfc.net.

Great Human Race runners, 2011

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