Fall Edition - October 2021
Is Your Family Ready for Flu Season?

Flu season begins in October and typically runs through the end of May. With both COVID-19 and the flu active this winter season, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging parents with children six months or older to get their child a flu shot as early as possible for the best protection. With Florida KidCare, each covered child can get a free flu shot. To locate a place where a flu shot can be found near you, visit the Florida Department of Health's "Locate a Flu Shot" webpage here.

Parents can also help their kids stay healthy this flu season by encouraging them to wash their hands frequently, to cough and/or sneeze into a tissue, shirt sleeve or arm and to alert someone when they don't feel well and may need to stay home from school. For more flu tips and information from the CDC, click on the video and resource links below:

CDC Flu Awareness Resources

The Parent's Guide to Dental Emergencies
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Children often have dental accidents due to their active way of life. If handled properly, your child’s teeth can be saved.

In all cases, it is important to take your child to the dentist as soon as possible.

The following list shows potential dental emergencies and the best way to help your child should one occur:

Cracked tooth: clean the mouth first by rinsing with warm water, then use cold ice packs on the face to keep the swelling down.

Toothache: clean the area by rinsing with warm water and use floss to remove any food pieces. Give your child ibuprofen or acetaminophen. It is important to read the label and use the right dosage for your child’s age.

Here are a few safety tips to help your child avoid a dental emergency:

  • Ask your child to wear a mouthguard or a helmet when playing sports.
  • Teach your child not to use their teeth to cut or open things.
  • Stop your child from running around with objects in their mouth.
  • Schedule your child’s dental checkups every six months. 

Sources: MCNA registered dental hygienists, mouthhealthy.org
Back to School -
We Can do This!
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We’ve all been through a change because of COVID-19. For months, families adjusted to sharing the same space for work and school. Now, change is happening again as more children have returned to the classroom. Like adults, many children are coping with stress and grief caused by the pandemic.

Dr. Diane Mageau, a pediatrician at Central Florida Health Care, reminds parents and caregivers to have a conversation with their children about anxiety or depression due to being in a new environment. Dr. Mageau says mental health is just as important as our physical health.

It's essential to be mindful of your child’s behavior during the school year. Signs of distress include mood changes, behavioral changes, loss of interest in activities, difficulties in sleeping, changes in appetite, loss of concentration, less interest in schoolwork, change in appearance, increase in reckless behavior and suicidal thoughts. Make sure to address these changes with your child and their pediatrician. 

Practicing gratitude with our families each day can have a positive impact on dealing with stressful situations. Some studies show gratitude can improve sleep quality. Discuss something good that happened during the day, what you are grateful for or how to help others. Self-care, exercising and eating healthy also aid in coping with stress. Making time to unwind has so many advantages and connecting with our children is even more productive.

Remember, you and your child don’t have to face anxiety alone. Pediatricians serve as a guide and helpful listener on health and wellbeing.

Author: Sherrie Pratt, Communications Coordinator
Protect Your Family with the Flu Vaccine
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Each year:
  • Millions of people catch the flu.
  • Hundreds of thousands go to the hospital due to the flu.
  • Thousands of people die from the flu.

You can help keep your child and family safe. When you and your family get the flu shot, you protect yourselves against the flu. You also help protect those around you, including babies who are too young to get vaccinated. Experts recommend the flu vaccine for everyone six months and older.
Plan ahead:
It takes two weeks for your body to protect itself from the flu after you get a flu shot. Talk to your child’s doctor to learn more.

Author: Danielle Gutierrez, CMS Health Plan
Give Cleanliness a Hand
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October 15th marks Global Handwashing Day and serves as a reminder about the importance of hand hygiene. Handwashing is the best way to stop the spread of germs and avoid getting sick. Hand hygiene should be a part of your child’s daily hygiene routine so it can become a lasting healthy habit.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says handwashing can stop one in three diarrhea-related sicknesses and one in five respiratory infections, such as a cold or the flu.

Here are some easy steps to help your child learn to wash their own hands:

  • Wet their hands with clean running water. Lather hands with soap and rub together. Be sure to get the backs of the hands, underneath the nails and between fingers.
  • Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds. That’s long enough to sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song twice!
  • Rinse hands under clean running water. Dry well with a clean towel.
  • If you do not have soap and water, you can use hand sanitizer. Check that it has at least 60% alcohol.

Children learn by watching, so allow them to see you washing your hands often. You can even consider a rule in your house that the whole family washes their hands at important times of the day. This can be before and after eating or cooking, after using the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing or even after they come inside from outdoor play.

Hand hygiene is the simplest way to avoid sickness and protect the whole family.

Youth Vaping and Oral Health
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It is important for parents to understand the growing concerns surrounding youth vaping. Vaping is the smoking of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). The vapor produced is inhaled by the user as well as those around them and can contain harmful chemicals and metals. Flavored e-cigarettes are largely to blame for encouraging children and teens to use these addictive nicotine-containing products. 

Smoking e-cigarettes can lead to serious health issues such as decreased lung function, impaired brain development and psychological and mood disturbances. 
Vaping can also have a negative impact on oral health. Dental-related consequences of e-cigarette use include:

  • Decreased saliva in the mouth, leading to an increase in tooth decay.
  • Decreased oxygen and blood flow to the gum tissues, leading to an increased risk of gum disease.
  • Teeth grinding which can destroy the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • Bad breath, mouth sores and tooth loss.

E-cigarettes have also been reported to explode during use resulting in burns, shattered jaws, facial trauma, and fractured or lost teeth. It is important for parents and health care providers to recognize the serious threat that vaping poses on dental health and overall health. Open conversations with teenagers and children regarding the risks associated with e-cigarette use should be encouraged. Let us all help to educate and protect the younger generation. For more information on youth vaping, click here.
Celebrate National Child Health Day and Give Your Child a Brighter Tomorrow
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In October, we celebrate National Child Health Day. Children are the future, so keeping them healthy and safe is key to a brighter tomorrow.

How can you celebrate National Child Health Day?

Make sure your child has their annual check-up even if their shots are current. The annual check-up is a chance to check their growth, discuss health concerns, and in older kids, risky behaviors like smoking and sexual activity.

Like COVID-19, childhood obesity is a pandemic. Overweight children are at risk for type 2 diabetes. Being overweight can lead to low self-esteem, bullying and depression while healthy eating is tied to better school performance.

So, what can you do? Make healthy eating and exercise a family affair. Get kids in the kitchen, letting them help prepare a healthy meal often results in kids eating a better diet.

Keep kids safe - children should wear their seatbelt in the car and a helmet while on bikes or skateboards; fencing should be placed around outdoor pools and bodies of water; children should get swim lessons, if needed; and, parents should have the number for Poison Control (1-800-222-1222) handy for any emergencies.

Kids, like adults, experience stress. Besides healthy eating and exercise, communication is key. Talk and listen to your child - using family mealtime as an opportunity is one suggestion.

Studies show that families who eat at least four meals together per week have children who are less likely to engage in tobacco, alcohol or drug use.

Children look to us to keep them safe, healthy and happy. Celebrate your child this National Child Health Day. 

The Behavioral Health of Children with Epilepsy
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Ten to twenty million children in the United States have some form of chronic illness or disability, and epilepsy is one such illness. In light of this fact, it is important that parents, professionals who work with children and the community at large are educated on the possible behavioral effects that epilepsy might have on children.

Behavioral issues are common in children with epilepsy and can include aggression, lack of interest, depression, or anxiety, to name a few. These issues may be associated with the stress of having an illness, fear of the unknown, fear of the social implications of having the disorder or the side effects of medication. In cases where comorbidities are present (i.e. learning disorders or other health issues), problem behaviors may be exacerbated.

It is important for families to address the inevitable challenges that may be brought on by their child’s epilepsy. Psychotherapy for parent and child can prove beneficial, and education occurring early in therapy can possibly prevent emergence of behavioral difficulties. Understandably, parents can experience great anxiety upon learning of their child’s condition, especially mothers. It has been found that group education for parents of children with epilepsy resulted in a decrease in maternal anxiety.

Whether at home, at school or at their favorite recreational pastime, behavioral issues associated with epilepsy can be displayed and must be understood by parents and professionals alike. This will ensure parents, caregivers and professionals are equipped to provide the support needed to enable children challenged by epilepsy to thrive.

Epilepsy Florida is the principal agency for epilepsy programs and services sponsored by the state of Florida, servicing an estimated 474,000 Floridians who suffer from the condition. For more information about epilepsy and services available to the community, please visit epilepsyfl.com or call 1-877-553-7453.

No Lies Here:
The Truth About Head Lice
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Head lice are tiny insects that feed on blood from the scalp. An infestation of head lice most often affects children and usually results from the direct transfer of lice from the hair of one person to the hair of another. Head lice don't carry bacterial or viral infectious diseases.
A tickling sensation in the hair, itching of the scalp, sores on the head from scratching and irritability.
The diagnosis of head lice infestation is best made by finding any lice (the mature insect) on the scalp or nits (lice eggs) in the hair.

  • Apply lice medicine to the hair according to the instructions. Many medications are available over the counter, while some are prescription only.
  • Nit combs, often found in lice medicine packages, should be used to comb nits and lice from the hair shaft after application of the medicine.
  • Retreatment may be necessary in some cases to kill any surviving hatched lice.
  • Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items that the infested person wore or used during the two days before treatment using hot water (130°F) and a high heat drying cycle.
  • It is important to check household members and close contacts of infested persons and treat them if they have the infestation as well.


  • Avoid head-to-head (hair-to-hair) contact during play and other activities.
  • Do not share clothing such as hats, scarves, coats, hair ribbons, or barrettes.
  • Do not share combs, brushes, or towels.

Author: Olunwa Ikpeazu, MD, Aetna
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TikTok tips, or “hacks” are trending across all topics, and oral health is no exception. 
Amber Bonnaig, Doctor of Dental Surgery, at DentaQuest, sets the record straight on these viral trends.

“Performing your own dental treatments – particularly like some of these TikTok videos – can cause significant, long-lasting damage to your child’s mouth and teeth, as well as your child’s overall health.” 

Dr. Bonnaig advises against the following dental hacks:   

Hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening: using hydrogen peroxide directly on your child’s teeth can cause irritation and sensitivity issues. Stick to over-the-counter whitening products instead of this hack. 

Nail file teeth filing: nail files cause damage to enamel, which protects teeth from sensitivity, pain, cavities, and staining. If your child is unhappy with the shape of their teeth, see a dentist to discuss safer options.

Hair flossing: flossing daily can help eliminate plaque between teeth and keep gum lines clean, but using incorrect tools, such as hair, can cause trauma and lead to irreversible harm to the gums.

Plaque removal: though plaque scrapers are available over the counter, if used incorrectly, they can cause damage to your child’s teeth. Stick to regular flossing and brushing and get two free cleanings each year to keep teeth free from plaque buildup. 

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) dentures: using moldable plastic as a solution for missing teeth can irritate gums and bone, which can lead to permanent recession and bone loss and poses a choking hazard.

Read more about these TikTok trends and their impact at https://bit.ly/3BhnMxx.

Author: Amber Bonnaig, Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) , DentaQuest
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