Don’t End Up With Jack O’Lantern Teeth This Halloween

By Dr. LINDA VIDONE

Each October, children look forward to dressing up and going from house to house collecting candy for Halloween. But in October, we celebrate more than just Halloween – it is also National Dental Hygiene Month so it’s the perfect time of the year to teach our children good oral health.

Here are five of my favorite tips for making it through Halloween with healthy teeth and good oral hygiene: 

Certain candy is better for teeth than others

As a dentist, I don’t recommend eating a lot of candy; however, there are some that can be more damaging than others. Candies that are sticky and chewy tend to get stuck in the crevices of your teeth and cause cavities. Candies that stay in your mouth longer, such as lollipops and Jolly Ranchers, also have the potential to be harmful because your teeth are being exposed to the sugar for a longer period of time. I recommend sorting out these types of candies from your child’s Halloween candy and only keeping the candy that is quicker to eat and lower in sugars, such as chocolates and powdery candy.

Make the candy a treat

Children often tend to consume more candy around Halloween because it is lying around the house. Instead of having the candy out, stash it away – and make it a treat or privilege. This will prevent kids from consuming the candy whenever they want. Reward your child with a piece of candy for completing their chores, getting a good grade, having a good attitude, etc.

Practice good dental hygiene after eating candy

Brushing twice a day is always important to maintaining good oral health; however, when your sugar intake increases, it is especially important to increase your oral health hygiene as well. Brushing your teeth and rinsing your mouth after consuming candy can reduce your chances of tooth decay. Also, make sure your little ones drink a lot of water (even better if it contains fluoride); this will help wash the candy particles away.

Donate extra Halloween candy

Donating your child’s Halloween candy is great way to limit how much candy your child consumes. I recommend sitting down with your child to help them pick a few of their favorites and then packing up the rest. There are many charities, dentist offices and organizations that take candy donations. Some dental offices will even reward patients for bringing in candy.

There are alternatives to candy

Consider purchasing healthy snacks or non-food treats for those who visit your home. Crackers, pretzels, raisins, stickers, pencils, yo-yos, coloring books, and of course toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss are all great things to handout and are still fun for kids.

Halloween doesn’t have to be scary for parents and dentists if you follow these tips. Happy Halloween!

Dr. Linda Vidone is the Dental Director of Delta Dental of Massachusetts.

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It Will Be “An Old Fashioned Christmas” Parade

“An Old Fashioned Christmas” submitted by Thomas O’Connor of Quincy has been chosen as the theme for the 62nd annual Quincy Christmas Parade.

O’Connor’s theme was one of 30 entries submitted to the Quincy Christmas Parade Committee in the annual contest to give the traditional event a theme. The theme is central to the groups and organizations that make floats and to the school children who take part in poster contest. Both the float winner and the poster winners receive the opportunity to ride the parade route in antique automobiles on the day of the parade.

This year’s parade will be held Sunday, Nov. 30th.

O’Connor is a member of the Braintree Moose Lodge that has built floats for the parade for a number of years. A retired veteran of the United States Coast Guard, he will also receive a commemorative plaque at the events annual award ceremony.

The parade committee is accepting applications from groups, schools, and organizations who would like to participate in the parade by building a float. Floats are judged and cash prizes are awarded in several categories at the conclusion of the parade.

Commercial floats my also be entered in the parade, however they are not considered for the cash awards and an entry fee is charged.

For information on group or commercial applications or to request an entry package, contact the parade committee at 617-376-1394.  The number of floats accepted is limited and early entry is encouraged.

 

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Medicare Open Enrollment Oct. 15 – Dec. 7

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announces the start of the Medicare Open Enrollment, which began Oct. 15th and ends Dec. 7th. CMS encourages people with Medicare to review their current health and prescription drug coverage options for 2015.

For 2015, steadily increasing quality of plans should give seniors confidence that they have an array of quality choices at competitive prices. Quality in Medicare Advantage and the Part D Prescription Drug Program continues to improve. About 60 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees are currently enrolled in plans with four or more stars for 2015, in contrast to an estimated 17 percent in 2009. And Medicare Advantage enrollment is projected to be at an all-time high in 2015 with more than 16 million beneficiaries.

CMS calculates star ratings from 1 to 5 (with 5 being the best) based on quality and performance for Medicare health and drug plans to help beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers compare plans. CMS is allowing 5-star Medicare health and prescription drug plans to enroll beneficiaries at any time during the year.

“It’s important that seniors should take this time to review their plans to make sure they are the best choice for their situation. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, seniors and people with disabilities are benefiting from improved quality in Medicare health and drug plans at competitive prices,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “With this improved quality, Medicare health and drug plan enrollees will receive improved care and coverage in a timely manner.”

CMS announced last month that the average Medicare Advantage (MA) premium for 2015 is projected to be $33.90.  Earlier this year, CMS estimated that the average basic Medicare prescription drug premium plan in 2015 was projected to be $32 per month. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, enrollment in Medicare Advantage will increase to 42 percent to an all-time high of over 16 million and Medicare Advantage premiums will have decreased by 6 percent. The law is also closing the Medicare Part D “donut” hole, with more than 8.3 million people saving over $12 billion on prescription drugs through July 2014.

Medicare plans coverage options and costs can change each year, and Medicare beneficiaries should evaluate their current coverage and choices, and select the plan that best meets their needs. If people with Medicare are satisfied with their current coverage and feel it will meet their needs for 2015, they to do not need to do anything.

For more information on Medicare Open Enrollment and to compare benefits and prices of 2015 Medicare health and drug plans, and view state-by-state fact sheets, please visit: www.cms.gov/Center/Special-Topic/Open-Enrollment-Center.html.

Resources for Medicare Beneficiaries

People with Medicare, their families, and caregivers can review and compare current plan coverage with new plan offerings, using many proven resources, including:

  • Visiting www.medicare.gov to see plan coverage and costs available in their area, and enroll in a new plan if they decide to make a change.  Open Enrollment information is available in Spanish.
  • Calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for around-the-clock assistance to find out more about coverage options.  TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.
  • Reviewing the 2015 Medicare & You handbook.  It is accessible online at: www.medicare.gov/pubs/pdf/10050.pdf – and it has been mailed to the homes of people with Medicare.
  • Getting one-on-one counseling assistance from the local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).  Local SHIP contact information can be found:

People with Medicare who have limited income and resources may qualify for Extra Help paying for their prescription drug costs.  There is no cost or obligation to apply for Extra Help, also called the low-income subsidy.  Medicare beneficiaries, family members, or caregivers can apply online at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778) to find out more.

 

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5K Fun Run, Walk Nov. 1

The River South Center’s SOBO Project has launched a 5k to raise human trafficking awareness and protection for the most vulnerable in the community. The 5k Run/Walk will be held on Saturday, Nov. 1st and will be fun for the whole family. 

Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m., runners will start at 8:30 a.m., and walkers will start at 9:30 a.m. The race will be timed and the scores recorded.

The Super Stop & Shop on 65 Newport Avenue donated water bottles and granola bars for the runners.

“We are hopeful that this fun community event will bring awareness about exploitation in our community and raise funds for our outreach projects.” commented Kristina Kaiser, the head of The River South Center.

The River South Center is asking for a $25 registration fee to raise funds for the center’s goals of workforce training, after-school programs, a fair trade coffee shop, and short-term housing options.

To sign up, visit http://theriversouthcenter.org/.

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Breast Cancer Education Exhibit At Quincy Medical Center

Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) announces the tour and exhibition of a new educational program, Let’s Talk Prevention: Reducing Toxic Exposures at Quincy Medical Center,114 Whitwell St. in Quincy during the month of October.

This educational program is designed by the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition to facilitate discussions between health professionals and patients about environmental exposures and chemicals of concern.  To help facilitate these discussions and make this important public health topic more palatable, the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition has created a one-of-a-kind booklet for health professionals and a medical brochure for patients.

The Let’s Talk Prevention: Reducing Toxic Exposures booklet for health professionals summarizes scientific evidence linking exposure and effect for many common chemicals of concern and suggests how to begin environmental health conversations with patients. The Let’s Talk Prevention: Reducing Toxic Exposures patient brochure, available in Spanish, Korean and English, describes basic steps for individuals and families to reduce problematic exposures and choose safer alternatives to toxic products. The goal of this program is to reduce toxic exposures which has implications for reducing the burden and cost of all environmentally-linked diseases, including breast cancer. The Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition is dedicated to preventing environmental causes of breast cancer through community education, research advocacy, and changes to public policy. 

Dr. Patricia Raney, MD, a physician who is based on Cape Cod whose specialty is family medicine reflects on the value of MBCC’s Let’s Talk Prevention educational outreach and the intrinsic connection between breast cancer and our environment, said:

“I am grateful that the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition is starting this dialogue between health professionals and their patients through Let’s Talk Prevention: Reducing Toxics Exposure. The message that breast cancer is an environmental issue and we must take steps to reduce our exposure to chemicals of concern is crucial to improving public health. It is with this understanding that I will work to share program materials with my patients to help them take steps to reduce their exposure to common chemicals linked with breast cancer and other diseases. I am very impressed with the booklet and the pamphlet, and this is an excellent and informative presentation that I look forward to sharing with my colleagues.” 

This program is in direct response to several federal reports, from the President’s Cancer Panel, the Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee, and more, which recommend increased attention to the link between environmental factors and disease, especially cancer. Additionally, information from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences supports actions to reduce toxic exposures. The burden of environmental linked diseases is often underestimated and not often discussed, even in medical programs. 

If a hospital, health center, community center, library, high school, college or private group has an interest in exhibiting the Let’s Talk Prevention materials, hosting a presentation about toxic exposures reduction, and sharing the materials, e-mail:cosimo@mbcc.org with the subject line: Let’s Talk Prevention Tour. The materials can be easily exhibited and displayed.

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