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Health Q&A

Posted August 08, 2012 in Advice Column, Des Moines West

Q: How can I have a healthy school year?

A: Back to school is right around the corner. Here are some tips to ensure your healthiest school year ever:
• Play outside more. Limit the amount of time spent playing video games and watching television for stronger muscles and healthier, faster bodies.
• Always wear a helmet when you’re riding a bicycle, skateboarding or in-line skating.
• Wash your hands with soap and water before you eat and after visiting the bathroom.
• Don’t share cups, drinks or food with your friends.
• Eat more healthy living food — five fruits and vegetables a day, more water and whole grains.
• Avoid unhealthy foods. Fast and fried foods, pizza, foods in boxes and cans, juices, sodas, and candy are all a burden on your body!
• Don’t carry heavy backpacks. Your backpack should never weigh more than 15 percent of your bodyweight.
• Get your sleep. Your body grows on rest, so go to bed early.
• Have good posture. Avoid slumping at your desk.
• Get your spine checked. Subluxation (an area of dysfunction in the spine that alters nerve function) is commonly caused by falls, sports, stomach sleeping and other stresses in children.
• Make this school year your best by starting it off with a positive attitude and a healthy lifestyle.

Information provided by Dr. Laura Rehmer, chiropractic physician, Whole Health Chiropractic Wellness Center, 855 42nd St., 277-0366.

Q:I am taking care of my spouse at home and am concerned by some of the emotions I feel. Is this normal?

A: Depression can go with the territory for family caregivers. You need to feel free to express your feelings so you can save yourself from potential negative physical and psychological consequences. A car with a dead battery is no use to anyone. Same goes for caregivers… you have to recharge your battery. Here are some recommendations:
• Acknowledge your feelings. It’s OK to feel conflicting emotions as a caregiver. Keep the bad moments in perspective they are only a portion of what you deal with. Think of it as a pie: maybe 30 percent is anger, 20 percent is guilt, but that leaves 50 percent as love.
• Release the feelings in a safe way. Let it out. Journaling, joining a support group, talking to a therapist or non-judgmental friends are all good ways to do this.
• Manage the situation. Face it, sometimes you need help. Tap into family, friends, community resources or professional caregivers for respite.
• Find solutions. Find ways to relax. Create a list of things you enjoy to reduce stress, and keep it nearby. Build in mini-breaks or small getaways,15 minutes at a time  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Visit for more ideas and resources.

Information provided by Anne Peters, Home Instead Senior Care®, 221-0866.

Q: What do I need to know about whitening my teeth?

A: The first step in deciding whether or not to whiten teeth should always be a proper dental exam with X-rays to determine the cause of the discoloration. This is the best way in which to explore your whitening options, with the person who is in the best position to advise you: your dentist. The optimal, most natural looking tooth shade is the one that creates a match between the whiteness of your teeth and the whiteness of your eyes.

A pre-bleaching exam may reveal the need for a particular treatment, before or even instead of bleaching. For example, there are several causes for discoloration — tooth decay, an abcess or root canal issues that bleaching could mask but not resolve the problem.

The cleaner your teeth are, the better they will lighten. If it has been more than three months since your last cleaning, we recommend a cleaning be done first to achieve better results.

Tooth colored composites and restorations will not lighten with bleaching. You may need to consider replacing an existing crown or modifying a composite to match your new whiter smile.

Also, all teeth do not reach the same whiteness. Each tooth has a maximum whiteness beyond which it won’t lighten regardless of the material used. Results can vary by type, percentage and frequency of bleaching product but all types will help to improve the appearance of your teeth with the added benefit of a younger smile and healthier gum tissue.

Information from Dear Doctor magazine, provided by Dr. Dennis Winter, Iowa Dental Arts, P.C., 2651 Beaver Ave., 277-6657.

Q: What is an oral pathologist?

A: An oral pathologist is a dentist who has gone on for further education and specializes in studying tissue from the mouth and teeth to diagnose disease and prescribe treatment. Oral pathology is one of numerous areas of specialty that some dentists choose to enter after completing their basic dental education. An oral pathologist is also called an oral maxillofacial pathologist.

When a general dentist comes across a condition in your mouth, he or she may choose to remove a piece of tissue — called taking a biopsy — and send it to an oral pathologist for examination. It is the job of the oral pathologist to determine if the tissue sample is cancerous or infectious.

All dentists go through four years of dental school, earning a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM). There is no difference in the degrees. Most dentists then go on for post-graduate training, either in a residency program at a hospital or in further education to become a dental specialist. Talk with your dentist about the various areas of specialty that are available to you if you need them.

Information provided by Des Moines Dental Group, 708 First Ave S., 967-6611.

Q: How can I make my child’s backpack safe to carry?

A: Don’t let a heavy backpack ruin your child’s day Here are some easy tips for backpack safety.
• Make sure your child’s backpack weighs no more than 5 to 10 percent of his or her body weight. A heavy backpack will cause your child to bend forward in an attempt to support the weight on his or her back rather than on the shoulders, by the straps.
• When packing the backpack, make sure that pointy, bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on the child’s back. An uneven surface rubbing against your child’s back could cause painful blisters.
• Tell your child to use both shoulder straps, not just one. A backpack slung over one shoulder shifts all of the weight to one side and can cause not only neck and muscle spasms, but also low back pain.
• The shoulder straps should be adjustable, so the backpack can be fitted to your child’s body. Shoulder straps that are too loose can cause the backpack to dangle uncomfortably and cause misalignment and pain.
• Talk to your child about the proper use of backpacks and help them understand why this and other ergonomic issues are important. A child who is educated early in life on these issues can apply this knowledge later in life and as a result, will be happier and healthier.

Call Blum Family Chiropractic at 515-277-2300 to have your child’s spine check and have his or her backpack fitted at the same time.

Information provided by Dr. David Blum, Blum Family Chiropractic, 2903 Ingersoll Ave., 277-2300.

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