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Beats Per Minute • Erie Family Health Center Blog • January 2015

In this issue: Winter Weather • Clean Teeth for Your Kids • Our Erie Patients Staying Safe in Winter WeatherHaga clic aqui para espanol. Happy New Year! It’s January and it’s freezing outside! The cold weather also means we have to take special precautions to stay safe and healthy. Older adults can be particularly susceptible to cold weather stressors. Here are some problems to be aware of and ways to remain safe and warm! Slips and falls: One of the common problems amongst older adults is injury due to icy sidewalks. Use extra care when walking on slippery sidewalks and try to keep salt or sand on hand for doorways. Non-slip shoes as well as rubber tipped canes and walkers can also prevent injury. Shoveling: Shoveling heavy snow can be too strenuous for people with heart problems, arthritis, osteoporosis or trouble with balance. If you suffer from any of these conditions, it’s better to let someone else clear the snow. Cold: Older adults have more trouble retaining body heat than younger people. Also, some common illnesses make it more difficult for the body to stay warm.  These include diabetes, thyroid issues, arthritis, and stroke. In general, any condition that makes it more difficult for blood to flow or movement through the body can contribute to low body temperature. Hypothermia: This happens when the temperature gets too cold. It can be hard to recognize because hypothermia causes confusion as well as sleepiness, weak pulse, change in behavior, poor body control or slow reactions Treating Hypothermia:  Normal body temperature is 98.6 °F and a body temperature below 96°F requires immediate action. First, call 911. While waiting for medical treatment, keep the person as warm and dry as possible. Move the person to a warmer place and wrap them in blankets or towels. Give the person something warm to drink, but avoid caffeine. If you suspect that you or someone else has hypothermia, it is important to act quickly! Avoiding Hypothermia: Check the weather forecast – try to avoid going outside on especially cold or windy days. Dress in layers. Several thin, loose layers trap warm air and are warmer than one thick layer. Also make sure to wear a hat, gloves or mittens, coat, boots and a scarf when heading outside to stay fully protected. Check with your doctor to see if medications affect your body heat. Avoid alcohol which can cause the body to lose heat, and eat properly.  Set your thermostat at 68 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Being prepared for cold weather can help keep you and your loved ones safe and happy! Winterizing cars and homes, having proper clothing and being prepared for inclement weather can go a long way towards avoiding preventable winter health issues. Teeth CleanHaga clic aqui para espanol. Even though it may seem like brushing your children’s teeth doesn’t do much for their health besides keep their smiles white, taking your kids to the dentist and keeping their teeth clean are the best ways to prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and cavities. While oral health problems can affect people of any age, children are the most cavity-prone population with 29% of third-grade students in Illinois living with untreated tooth decay. Everyone’s mouth is full of bacteria, and without daily flossing and brushing, bacteria called plaque builds up on the teeth. Drinking soda or eating sugary treats makes plaque stick to teeth even more. Eventually, if it isn’t removed regularly, plaque can produce acids that erode a tooth’s enamel. Tooth decay might not sound so terrible, but not taking care of your child’s teeth while they’re young can cause health problems as they’re growing up. When excess bacteria builds up in your child’s mouth, it can easily transfer to other parts of the body and cause infections. Some research even suggests that oral bacteria can cause the inflammation that leads to cardiovascular diseases. There are many other reasons why dental health is part of overall health and wellness. A healthy mouth is essential for biting, chewing, and swallowing, all of which impact food digestion. And, of course, a beautiful smile and sweet-smelling breath are socially important. The first dental visit should be before your child’s first birthday or as soon as the first tooth comes in. Even before your child gets his or her first tooth, you should wipe your child’s gums with a clean damp washcloth. It’s best to take action now and teach your child how to brush their teeth effectively. After placing the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gum, the brush should be moved back and forth in short strokes. All surfaces of the teeth should be brushed. Start with the outer surfaces (the surfaces touching your cheek) and then move to the chewing surfaces and the inward surfaces of the teeth. To clean the inner surfaces of the front teeth, you can tilt the brush vertically and move the brush up and down. Finally, brush your tongue. You should brush your teeth after every meal, at least twice a day. But brushing your teeth alone isn’t enough to remove bacteria. You should also teach your child to floss. As soon as two teeth touch each other, floss between them once a day. Flossing removes food particles that get stuck between your teeth. Once you have a string of floss between your thumbs and index fingers, slide it up and down between all of your teeth. At some point, your child will want to use the toothbrush. That’s great! But afterward, you should always brush your child’s teeth a second time. Many children won’t be able to brush their teeth well on their own until they are about 8 years old. Finally, eating a healthy, nutritious diet low in sugars can help improve a child’s dental health. Packing your child low-sugar snacks like apple wedges and carrot sticks ensures they’re keeping their mouth free of bacteria and acids. If you have any concerns about your child’s teeth or oral health, you should call your dentist to make an appointment. Our Erie Patients Providing our patients with quality, compassionate care is our top priority. Everyone at Erie, from our doctors and nurses to our billing and administrative staff, work at Erie with the hope that what they do on a daily basis betters the health and well-being of the entire community. These stories provide just a glimpse into the lives of some of our patients—and how their health, and their family’s health, has improved under the care of Erie’s attentive staff. Carmens Story   Haga clic aqui para espanol. Everyone knows that having a clean, white smile is better than having cavities—but did you also know that dental health affects your overall health and well being? Cavities are caused by bacteria, and bacteria in the mouth, if left untreated, could travel to other parts of the body and cause infections. Five-year-old Carmen developed cavities as a toddler. Erie dentist Yolanda Hendrix and dental assistant Denise Gonzalez began providing treatment and education. “Learning to care for teeth early in life establishes hygiene and nutrition habits that contribute to better overall health,” said Hendrix. Carmen’s mother, Marilu Salgado, believes that oral health is very important for her four children. She is grateful for the knowledge she gained through Carmen’s treatment and regular dental visits with Carmen’s siblings. “We have our healthy routine now,” said Mrs. Salgado. “Everyone brushes after meals. We stay away from candy and visit the dentist every six months. Carmen is eating more fruits and vegetables. She even asks to drink water now instead of soda or juice. It’s good for our whole family!” Are you interested in sharing your personal story of how the people at Erie have positively affected your health? Contact gsalazar@eriefamilyhealth.org and your story could be featured on the Erie blog, website, as well as or other social media channels.