Learning to Live Without
Look, Ma, no cavities!'' beams the cherubicfaced child in the television commercial. And that's exactly what every parent likes to hear.
A clean report--''No cavities!''--is quite possible these days, according to Luke Matranga, D.D.S., president of the Academy of General Dentistry and chairman of the Department of Comprehensive Dental Care at Creighton University Dental School in Omaha.
Of course, nothing can substitute for good dental care, and most dentists recommend visits every six months after the age of two. But along with the dentist's attention, excellent at-home habits can go a long way toward preventing cavities. Here's how.
Caring for Teeth
Skip baby's bedtime bottle. Lull your baby to sleep with a lullaby--or a bottle filled with clear water--instead of a bottle with milk or juice, says Dr. Matranga. When your baby falls asleep with milk or juice in his mouth, the sugars in those beverages can decay teeth when they combine with plaque, a ''film'' on the teeth that encourages bacterial growth. In fact, most cases of extensive infant tooth decay are known as ''baby bottle syndrome,'' he says.
Clean your baby's gums. Good dental habits start early--even before teeth come in. '' You should get your child used to mouth care by wiping her gums with a moist, soft cloth right after she eats,'' says William Kuttler, D.D.S., a dentist in Dubuque, Iowa, who has been treating children for more than 20 years.
Direct the brushing. Start brushing teeth as soon as they appear, using a round-tipped, soft-bristle baby's toothbrush without toothpaste, says Jed Best, D.D.S., a pediatric dentist and assistant clinical professor of pediatric dentistry at Columbia University School of Dentistry in New York City. Continue to assist your child with brushing as long as he needs it, Dr. Best advises.
''A good rule of thumb is that if your child is dexterous enough to tie his own shoes, he can probably brush his own teeth,'' says Dr. Best. ''Until then, you can let your child do the best he can, then go over any spots he's missed.''
Let your child choose the toothbrush. When your child is old enough to do the brushing, she's more likely to enjoy it if she has a toothbrush she likes--one festooned with cartoon characters, for example. ''As long as the toothbrush is appropriate for a child--with a small head and soft, roundtipped, nylon bristles--your child can select it on her own,'' says Dr. Matranga.
Find fluoridated toothpaste. After your child has six or seven teeth, it's time for her to start using toothpaste. ''Choose one that is fluoridated, but not tartar control,'' advises Cynthia Fong, a registered dental hygienist and assistant clinical professor in the Department of General and Hospital Dentistry at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey/New Jersey Dental School in Newark. Some tartar-control products can be abrasive, she explains, and tartar buildup isn't a common problem in children. Also, make sure your child knows which tube of toothpaste is exclusively hers. She'll feel more important knowing that toothpaste is hers alone.
Brush twice a day. Many people--children and adults alike--do only a perfunctory job of brushing. It takes time to remove plaque and debris from teeth, and once a day isn't enough. '' Your child should brush his teeth for two to three minutes at least twice a day,'' says Dr. Best. One brushing should be just before bed, so food particles or plaque don't remain on your child's teeth overnight.
Introduce flossing early. A s soon as your toddler has two back teeth that touch, it's time to start daily flossing. But you'll be in charge of this task for quite a while--likely until your child is seven or eight, says Dr. Best. ''This takes even more manual dexterity than brushing,'' he explains.
Sit to floss. The easiest way to floss your child's teeth is to sit behind her while she's standing or kneeling, with her head in your lap. ''Now she's in a position similar to that in a dentist's chair,'' says Fong. This will let you reach your child's teeth more easily and see what you're doing.
Floss in front of the TV. Flossing doesn't have to be done in the bathroom. If your child gets impatient while you're flossing his teeth, change locations. ''Most kids will balk less about flossing if you can get him to a place he likes,'' says Dr. Matranga. ''So park yourself in front of the television, place your child's head in your lap and do the flossing there.''
Try a mechanical toothbrush or an irrigator. The buzz of a special mechanical appliance can make daily tooth care more appealing to some children--and can cut the time required as well. ''Electric or battery-operated toothbrushes do an excellent job of cleaning the teeth, in about half the time of manual brushing,'' says Dr. Matranga. Oral irrigators that shoot a stream of water onto the teeth help get food particles out from between teeth. But parents shouldn't assume that oral irrigation is a substitute for brushing and flossing, he says.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Eat less often. There's a reason many dentists recommend limiting between-meal snacks. Whenever your child eats, the teeth are bathed in food particles and sugars that can cause decay. ''The more often food comes in contact with teeth, the more chance there is for decay,'' explains Dr. Matranga. If your child brushes after each snack, the damage is limited.
Pick snack foods carefully. Some snacks are worse for teeth than others, notes Dr. Kuttler. Dentists say the best choices are cheese, air-popped popcorn and raw vegetables. Fresh fruit is also acceptable, according to sugar content,'' Dr. Kuttler says, and juice can also be harmful. This doesn't mean you have to deny your child these foods or drinks, but your child should only eat or drink them when he can brush afterward, advises Dr. Kuttler.
Grasp at straws. If your child does drink soda or juice, she can minimize the potential tooth damage by drinking from a straw. The straw directs the beverage past the teeth, so they aren't ''bathed'' in sugars. ''A straw limits the time the drink is in contact with the teeth,'' says Dr. Kuttler. ''So less damage is done.''
Rinse with water. After your child has had a snack or a meal, have him swish plain water in his mouth. ''This removes some of the loose food particles and sugar,'' says Fong. Brushing is better, notes Fong, but when a toothbrush isn't available, swishing is better than nothing.
Supply sugarless gum. Gum is another option: Chewing on sugarless gum for about 20 minutes can help clean teeth, says John Brown, D.D.S., a dentist in private practice in Claremont, California, and past president of the Academy of General Dentistry. ''Chewing gum stimulates saliva flow, and saliva helps clear debris and plaque-forming substances from the teeth,'' explains Dr. Brown.
Set a good example. If your child sees you brushing and flossing your teeth and choosing snacks that are healthy for your teeth, it's more likely that she will do the same. ''Good tooth care is a learned behavior,'' says Dr. Kuttler. ''If parents put a high value on their own dental health, their children are much more likely to want to do the same.''
The service is provided as general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor.
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Q: What do hiring managers really want to hear when they use the standard line, "Tell me about yourself"?
A: Speaking for myself, I want a brief summary of your experience, highlighting the abilities that relate directly to the job. I want to hear that you know something about my company – that you've done your homework. I want to know what makes you a qualified candidate for this job.
What I don't want is a long, rambling answer that goes nowhere. I don't want to know personal information. I don't want your entire history starting with high school. And don't start from the beginning. Just like in the resume, tell me about your relevant experiences, starting with the most recent.
Q: What would you say is the single most impressive thing a job candidate can do in an interview?
A: Be prepared – be very prepared. By that, I mean, prepare questions that show you've taken the time to learn about my company and that you are interested in it. Don't just tell me your strengths; prepare stories that illustrate where you've used those strengths successfully in past work experiences. So many job candidates think they can just wing it in an interview. Be prepared!
Q: What are the "hidden hiring criteria" that can't be written in a job description?
A: Want to know a secret? The most qualified candidate never gets the job. You may match the job description perfectly, but that doesn't mean you're the best candidate or are entitled to the job. The job description is only a small part of the hiring decision. "Fit" is probably the most important hidden criterion.
An employer wants to know that you can do the job and do it well, but they've asked you in for an interview, so they probably already think you can do the job. What they don't know until they meet you is whether you'll be an effective addition to the organization.
Q: How do you determine "fit"?
A: Fit is a subjective measure that takes into account the candidate's abilities, as well as innate qualities such as sense of humor, capacity to learn quickly, maturity, and confidence. It's a combination of how the interviewer feels about you, and whether you seem like someone who will fit in well and complement the rest of the team.
Q: What's the most memorable thing a candidate has ever done in an interview you conducted?
A: Silence. I purposely asked the guy a really tough question and he sat in silence for 15 or 20 seconds, thinking about it. I decided during those 15 seconds to hire him, because his silence indicated to me that he had the maturity, confidence, and comfort with conflict to handle the job.
Another candidate once brought a PowerPoint flipchart presentation to her interview. Each page highlighted how her experience related to the job. That told me she was extremely prepared, she really wanted the job, and she had the experience to do it. I hired her, too.
Q: What's the most incredible blunder a candidate ever committed in an interview you were conducting?
A: One individual was continually checking his watch and looking at the door. Since he obviously needed to be somewhere else, I obliged and ended the interview.
Q: What's the best way for a candidate to address employment gaps in their resume during an interview?
A: As we've discussed, what a hiring manager cares about is your ability to do the job, do it well, and fit into the organization. Everyone has gaps in their resume. Yes, I will question you about the gaps, but all I want is an honest answer.
Experienced interviewers have well-developed BS detectors. So don't try to hide your employment gaps or pad the dates of other jobs. Just tell me the truth. You took time off to care for a child. You got laid off. You didn't get along with your boss. I understand these things.
Here's a secret that hiring managers will rarely tell you: If you get fired or laid off, especially after a short time on the job, it's really not your fault. A "bad hire" is the hiring manager's fault. After all, we pick you; you don't pick us.
So when we ask about the gaps in your resume, it's not because they're unusual, rather it's to cover our own backsides by minimizing the possibility of a bad hire.