How to maximize happiness at the Happiest Place on Earth: A Disney Guide

Disney 2

I had the opportunity to attend a continuing education course in Anaheim, California recently.  Being a mother of a 3 year old, I have a good reason to also visit the happiest place on earth (but I have to admit, it is for my own amusement as well J).   For my son to enjoy his first time in Disneyland, I had to do some “strategic planning”: which park to hit, rides that are most suitable for my son’s age and interests, Fastpasses, the quietest time of year, plane tickets, food, hotels; the list seems never ending.   I am sure there are many moms out there doing the same – so why reinvent the wheels?  Let me share some of my experience which you may find helpful in planning ahead of time.

The biggest key is to allow yourself time to plan before the trip. A few months in advance can be extremely helpful, considering that there are so many things to think of.  You most likely already have a park in mind, but do consider that Disney World has 4 parks and 2 water parks and is immensely bigger than Disneyland, which only has 2 (for now – they are building a 3rd one). With small children, walking from hotel to park, and trying to hit every park in a week at Disney World may be challenging and not so enjoyable for the little one’s so Disneyland may be more attainable for young first timer.

It is also important to do research on when you want to go.   Some of the least busy times to go to Disney World are the middle of January to the middle of February; late August; and the week after American Thanksgiving to the middle of December. The least busy times at Disneyland are the week after Easter Sunday until the middle of May; after Labour Day to mid October; and after American Thanksgiving to the middle of December. The busiest times are obviously weekends, winter and spring break, summer, and all major holidays.   It is more memorable to go in October when there is a Halloween theme and other special attractions that only happen this time of year but you can also add more personalized touch by signing up for events like dining with characters.  It is better to book these special events in advance online. The Disney Website has its own planner called My Disney Experience, and you can use it to plan hotels, food, attractions and whatever else you are curious about. Calling a Disney representative is also helpful as they can give you ideas and save you time finding out the info on the website.


Finding a place to stay in or around the Disney area is overwhelming, as there are so many options for this as well. Staying in the park is convenient, because you walk out of your nicely themed hotel and you are already in the park, but they are usually more expensive.  Also, if you are with older or no children, this can be a bit too much Disney for you, and the off-park hotels can give you a break from the crazy hustle and bustle. Hotels around Disney area often provide shuttle services so you can minimize walking as you will be doing all day in the Park!

Line up is no fun for anyone, especially small little ones so Fastpasses are blessings! Fastpasses are essentially tickets with a return time so you can pass through lineups and get right onto the ride.  It works differently for each park – for Disney World, you have to get them beforehand, but at Disneyland you go right to the popular attractions and grab the Fastpass ticket at the ride.  Bear in mind that there are also Fastpasses for meeting some of the favourite characters – for examples, nowadays, with Princess Anna, Elsa and Olaf.   There is also an app that tells you the wait time at each ride and food lines, which is very convenient if you are debating walking across the park. Disney World has wifi built throughout the entire park which makes the app more accessible if you’re from out of country or do not have data.

When you arrive at the park, you can tell Guest Relations if it is your birthday, first visit, or anniversary, you will be given a button to wear which gets the cast’s attention to give you an extra special hello.   There is a disability card that can be provided for those who can’t wait in the long lines due to a disability, which you can also get at Guest Relations. There are strollers to rent in the park for littler children, and if you plan on renting one for more than a day, let the park know and they will give you a discount. Another fun tip, is that if you buy a coffee in the park and keep your receipt, you can take it into any food shop and get it refilled for free (you don’t even need your cup). You can also ask the photographers if they can add special effects to your photos with characters. Make sure you don’t forget an autograph book for the little one’s when they meet the celebrity characters.  You can purchase in the park, or just buy a more affordable Disney themed one at the dollar store at home. It is a good keepsake for children (I still have mine from my first visit to the park).

Being organized and having everything planned beforehand takes away the stress one might have at the beginning of the trip, and allow everything to flow smoothly.   Hope all these tips help you enjoy your time in the park.   Have fun!


It is not just too much sugar in your blood, diabetics face many oral complications.

periodontal diseaseDiabetes is a diagnosis not restricted to adults.  With childhood obesity on the rise, there are more and more children being diagnosed with diabetes.  Diabetes can affect your mouth in a variety of ways.  The increase in glucose or sugar in your blood can cause pain, infection and other problems in your teeth, gums, jaw and other tissues (tongue, inside of cheeks and roof and bottom of your mouth).  There is more glucose in your saliva when diabetes is not controlled and these extra sugars can cause bacteria to grow faster.  The overgrown bacteria, combined with the food you eat, forms plaques which are sticky and hard to scrub off from your teeth.  Not only does the plaque lead to gum disease and cavities, it can contribute to bad breath.

Some common mouth problems that are found in diabetics are:

  • Gingivitis – inflamed, red, swollen, bleeding gums

  • Periodontitis (advanced gingivitis) – infection causing gum and also the supporting bone to pull away from the teeth – eventually may lead to tooth loss

  • Thrush – uncontrolled fungal growth, white sore patchy mucous membranes, open sores

  • Xerostomia (dry mouth) – dry, rough mucous membranes leading to problems with eating, swallowing or talking, pain in mouth, cracked lips, sores which are hard to heal

If you have diabetes, check your mouth for signs of these problems and speak to your dentist right away if you notice any of the above conditions.  The best option is to see your dentist at least twice a year for a cleaning and checkup as it is often difficult to notice the first signs and symptoms and the damage may have progressed by the time you do notice.

It’s a two way street – Keeping your mouth healthy will help your diabetic control

Research has suggested that the relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease goes both ways – periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar.  Severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when the body functions with a high blood sugar. This puts people with diabetes at increased risk for diabetic complications.

Oral care tips for diabetics

-monitor your blood glucose and keep it as close to target as possible

-eat healthy meals and follow a meal plan

-brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste – aim for morning, before bed and after each meal or sugary/starchy snack

-talk to your dentist about using a fluoride mouth rinse or anti-plaque/anti-gingivitis mouth rinse/saliva substitute if you have dry mouth

-get a soft toothbrush, gently brush with it angled towards the gum line with small circular motions

-tell your dentist about any changes in your health or medications, share the results of your diabetes blood tests such as A1C or fasting blood glucose test and ask if you need antibiotics before or after any dental treatment if diabetes is uncontrolled

Copyright 2014 The Children’s Oral Care Centre

What does your heart have to do with your teeth? Is your child at risk for infective endocarditis?

When you come for a dental visit,  Dr. Tsang may ask many questions about your child’s medical history.  Sometimes you wonder why she needs to know so many details?

It is important for her to understand the complete picture of your child’s current health status in order to provide the best care for your child.  With a thorough understanding of one’s medical health, she will know what health interventions would be best suited for your child and will not precipitate any medical concerns your child may already have.   One of the medical conditions that may really catch her attention is heart murmur.

What is a heart murmur?

When your heart beats, valves in your heart makes a “Lub-Dub” sound.  A heart murmur is an extra or unusual whooshing sound that can be heard in addition to your normal heartbeat.  Murmurs can be very faint to very loud.  There are two types of heart murmurs; innocent heart murmurs (not threatening) and abnormal heart murmurs.  An innocent heart murmur is not caused by a heart problem.  It is usually caused by strong blood flow through your heart and can often occur in healthy children.  Children who have an innocent heart murmur do not have to limit their physical activities and do not need any treatment.  In contrast, children with abnormal heart murmurs may have congenital heart defects that are present at birth and are often accompanied by other signs or symptoms of heart problems.

Often, your doctor can tell right away whether a heart murmur is innocent or not by just listening with a stethoscope.  On occasion, your doctor may request further testing, like an echocardiogram, to clarify whether it is innocent or abnormal.   It is pertinent to distinguish what type of heart murmur your child has because there are some medications and procedures that are not suitable for someone who has a heart condition.   Extra precautions (like taking an antibiotic) may be necessary before any dental procedures are safely carried out for these children.


What is infective endocarditis?  How serious can it be? What is the potential link to dentistry?

It is an infection of the heart valves or lining of the heart when bacteria or other organisms enter the bloodstream.  Once in the bloodstream, bacteria build up on a valve or the lining of the heart where damage may have occurred.  The symptoms are fever, chills, fatigue, weakness, aching joints and muscles, shortness of breath, cough, swelling in the feet or legs, blood in the urine or the onset of a new heart murmur.  Infective endocarditis is a rare complication that can occur after having dental work completed as bacteria in the mouth enter the blood stream during a dental procedure .  If your child was born with a congenital heart disease, have artificial heart valves, or previous history of infective endocarditis, you should inform our dentists before any treatment as he or she may have higher risk for infective endocarditis after dental or medical procedures.  One intervention that can be used to prevent this type of complication is the use of antibiotics before having any treatment completed.  We follow the American Heart Associations guidelines for antibiotic treatment prior to dental procedures to prevent infective endocarditis.  These guidelines support those individuals who are at highest risk of developing infective endocarditis receiving short-term preventive antibiotics before common dental or medical procedures.  We also take the time to consult with your child’s physician before starting any treatment if there is need for clarification.  Here are some easy tips for you to help us if your child has a cardiovascular history:

  • Ask your doctor for any special preparations

  • Inform our dentists and discuss with them your child’s condition prior to treatment

  • Know what medications your child is taking, if any.  For example, some heart medications may cause excessive bleeding during dental procedures

  • Be prepared to give our dentist your doctor’s name and address

  • Be prepared to give our dentist permission to contact and consult with your doctor

Copyright 2014 The Children’s Oral Care Centre

Autism Awareness Month – Free Apps to try out for tech savvy children with autism

The number of children with autism is rising in alarming rates in Canada and the United States.  One report showed increases ranging from 39% to 204% in Ontario and the Maritime provinces.  Since the diagnosis of autism involves no specific  test and is mainly based on interpretations of the child’s behaviours, the increase can be attributed to heightened awareness of the condition and the gradual expansion of the diagnosing criteria which now includes milder social and learning disabilities in children. Regardless of the basis of the rising numbers in children, the fact of the matter is these children need help as soon as possible because intensive therapy at an early age can potentially lessen the symptoms of autism and can facilitate their daily activities, like going to the dentist!  In this day and age where children are well motivated by technology and as resources can be limited with therapies and programs,  we have looked through some apps that we feel may help your child with autism to function at their best. All of these apps are free!  Some of them may be linked to preliminary scientific evidence to support their benefits.

A dental visit is a novel experience for many children.  It is important for us to know how your child feel while we care for their teeth.   The following are apps that will help your child express their emotions and assist them in communicating their feelings.

Autism Emotion

Uses music and a photo slideshow to help teach your child about the different emotions.  It includes audio narration, descriptive text of each photo and songs and is based on the Model Me Faces & Emotions DVD used for social skill training for children and teenagers with Autism and Asperger Syndrome.

iPad, iPhone, iTouch

PictoDroid Lite

Uses pictograms to create simple action and object sentences.


Social Skill Builder

Has interactive videos to teach key social thinking, language and behavior that are important to everyday life.

iPad, iPhone, iTouch


Is used for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) intervention with nonverbal children who have autism by using the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS).


Talking Mats

Helps children who have difficulty communicating participate in conversations and communicate effectively.

Android, iPad (all ages)

Tantrum Tracker Lite

Gives you the ability to track your child with behavioral control issues, autism spectrum, ADD, or ADHD’s tantrums and outbursts.  Beneficial to understand the causes and details of your child’s tantrums.

iPhone, iTouch (all ages)

Children are calmer and more compliant when they have regular predictable routines and schedules, especially when it comes to forming good health habits.  The following apps can be helpful for establishing your child’s routines like brushing their teeth, scheduling regular visits to the dentist or even walking them through a sequence of events at the dentist so they can be prepared them ahead of time.

AutiPlan Pictoplanner

For children who need more structure and an overview of their daily activities this app uses clear pictograms and text that you can drag and drop.  It has alarms and uses text-to-speech to help your child focus on their activities.  It has various templates to make scheduling quick and easy.

Android, iPad (all ages)

ABPathfinder’s Parent Pathway

Allows you to track the daily habits of your child and determine patterns in their activities and behaviors in a quantifiable way.  This includes; sleep habits, diet, medication changes, social changes, environmental changes.  This information can be shown to your child’s therapy team and can lead to better understanding and outcomes for your child.

Windows 8 (all ages)

Picture Planner

A day planner that uses images with prompts and reminders to help your child stay on track.  Has the ability to use a desktop and sync to your mobile devices.

iPad, iPhone, iTouch


You can save ideas, to-do lists and things you need to remember via voice, text, email or IM.

iPad, iPhone, iTouch

Symbly Go

Allows your child to view his or her visual supports, communication boards, visual schedules, and social stories on the go.


VizZle Student Player

You and your child’s educators can use this app to show instructional lessons for children who learn best from visually supported materials.

Android, iPad (all ages)

For more cool apps, you can also visit:


Copyright 2014 The Children’s Oral Care Centre

Back to school, back to the dentist! 5 resources to help low-income families get that necessary appointment for their childs dental health!

We, at the Children’s Oral Care Centre, advocate for children to see their dentist regularly as one of the keys to dental health.  Most of us get new haircuts, new runners for the beginning of a school year,  so why not take this time to go to the dentist and give your teeth a fresh start as well  if you haven’t been to a dentist for some time?

Dental visit is not covered under Medical Services Plan and if you do not have any private insurance, the cost for dental visit can add up. But before you get too worry, take a look at some homework we have done for you.  We have researched on some resources which can provide assistance for your children’s dental care.

Healthy Kids Program

This program is run by the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation and helps low income families with the costs of basic dental care.  Your child is eligible for this program if he or she is under the age of 19 and receive Medical Services Plan premium assistance through the ministry.  The coverage includes partial coverage of basic dental services.  There is a dollar limit which is renewed every 2 years.  Some restrictions apply, eg. some services may only be covered once a year, like exams, x-rays, or cleanings,  so you have to confirm with your dentist  about the coverage.

Contact the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation by calling:

1 866-866-0800 (Press 4 and then 2)

KEYS Dental Clinic

This is a non-profit dental clinic that offers free services to those on disability or income assistance.  If you do not meet those requirements the clinic does offer low cost cleanings and other services on the Ministry pay scale so they are less costly.    Children must be at least 10 years old to access this benefit.

10697 135A St. Surrey BC


SOURCES BC Dental Clinic

Peace arch free dental clinic offers dental services to low income individuals in the White Rock and South Surrey areas who do not have dental benefits.  They need to be contacted directly for further information.

Suite 208 1461 Johnston Rd. White Rock BC


UBC Dental Clinic

The UBC Dental Clinic offers dental services by students and supervised by professionals at reduced rates.  This service can be lengthier as it is a teaching environment but is more affordable.  They are open from September to May each year and appointments must be booked ahead of time.

2151 Westbrook Mall Vancouver BC



Provides hygiene services, cleanings are $30, but a time commitment is required. Hygiene services are done by students and supervised by professionals.

250 West Pender St. Vancouver BC


Happy schoolchildren showing their thumbs up.

Copyright 2014 The Children’s Oral Care Centre