Did you know that saliva is one of your body’s defenses against viruses and bacteria? Keeping your mouth healthy helps keep your whole body healthy. Brushing, flossing, staying hydrated, and visiting our office twice a year helps your saliva do its germ fighting job! In addition to keeping your mouth healthy, here are some little things with big impact to keep the bugs at bay.
Good hygiene habits like washing your hands often can help stop germs from spreading. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer. Washing your hands regularly reduces the chance of spreading respiratory and tummy bugs, so get your kids in the habit when they leave school, after play-dates, and before meals. The amount of time you wash your hands is also very important! 15-20 seconds of hand washing is recommended, so teach your children to sing Happy Birthday to themselves twice before they finish scrubbing.
If you are feeling sick, stay home! Keep your community healthy by limiting interaction until you feel better.
Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing and sneezing is also a great habit to teach little ones. Ask their teacher and day care providers if they have enough kleenex and hand sanitizer for their classroom. Germs enter our bodies through our eyes, nose, and mouth so keep hands from touching faces (including their own) as much as possible.
Teach your child never to share a straw, cup, or toothbrush, and be sure to replace toothbrushes whenever someone has been sick.
Get everyone at home on board with cleaning their doorknobs and room surfaces. Keeping sanitizing wipes or a spray bottle filled with kid-safe cleaning spray in plain site around the house is a great reminder to keep things clean and healthy.
Harley A. Rotbart, M.D., says that, ‘”Exercise is better than any advertised cure or miracle.” His studies show that regular, moderate exercise can reduce the number of cold and flu episodes that occur over the course of a year by 25-50 percent, possibly by boosting the circulation of infection-fighting cells. Make sure everyone is getting physical activity (spend some time at the park!), their recommended hours of sleep, is drinking enough water, and eating nutritious food.
Meals with plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables will help boost your child’s immune system. Look for foods rich in vitamin C (broccoli, strawberries, and oranges) and vitamin D (tuna, fortified milk, and cereals). Eating yogurt with active cultures (probiotics) can also help build defenses. All of the healthy recipes we’ve shared in the past year are a great place to start!