Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla: Last week, my 5-year-old fell off her bike right on her face. She was wearing a helmet, but what she needed was a mouthguard. She knocked one of her front teeth into a position that I haven't seen outside of a pamphlet for donations to fix cleft palates. I found that after-hours dentists are pretty nonexistent. It was a baby tooth, but my kids get their teeth late, so if she lost it, we were looking at a few years with a gap, and I didn't know if that would affect future spacing with permanent teeth. So I turned her tooth around and got it in position myself.
Let me say, I would choose multiple kids vomiting on me over doing that again. It did make me think about ways to save on medical and dental bills, though. The first one is: STAY HEALTHY. Exercise, eat right, stay in a reasonable weight range, brush well and floss, don't smoke, etc. -- stuff we all know, of course, but sometimes forget. Make sure your kids eat right and get enough sleep. In my family, if my kids feel like they are coming down with something and they can get a couple of extra hours of sleep, they can usually kick the cold before it ever settles in.
Next, get regular checkups. That means yearly physicals, and (my dentist says) twice-yearly dental checkups. The cost of those exams is nothing compared to the benefit of nipping something in the bud, or the cost associated with a more advanced medical problem.
Last, decide what you are able to treat at home (apparently, for me, that means advanced dental problems). Keep a reasonable supply of treatment options at home: acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin) for infants, children and adults (for fevers and pain); hot and cold packs; antibiotic cream; Band-Aids of all sizes, gauze pads and a couple of ACE Bandages for first aid; a humidifier; saline drops for stuffy noses; honey for coughs (not for babies under 1 year of age, though); a eucalyptus rub to clear chest and nasal congestion for colds and flu; antifungal and hydrocortisone creams for rashes; Pedialyte, Gatorade and low-sodium chicken broth to hydrate after intestinal distress.
Educate yourself about your treatment options and when to call your doctor. If you don't know, ask at your next well-child visit. If ever in doubt, call. Lots of doctors now use e-mail to get back to patients quickly about their concerns; find out if yours does.
I'm hoping for a healthy upcoming school year, but I'm stocking my medicine cabinet just in case.