Of all the worries of new parenthood, how to properly take care of my daughter's teeth once they started coming in was the hardest for me. I had no idea what to do and always felt like I wasn't doing enough because I was so worried that she'd grow up having the same dental problems as me someday. Taking care of another human being's health is a huge responsibility, one that isn't always easy to do when the toddler teens come rolling around, so I've come up with a few tips I've heard over the years to make healthy dental habits — an absolute must — a bit less dramatic in your home.
I participated in this sponsored campaign on behalf of Firefly®, REACH®, and One2One Network. All opinions stated are my own.
As soon as Savannah's teeth started sprouting up I began wiping them with a wet cloth after each meal, then using a grain-sized amount of natural fluoride toothpaste to brush her teeth once she was old enough until she was over 3 and the recommended size increases to a pea-size. Now that she's 5 I still brush her teeth part of the time but am moving toward just supervising while she does it herself (the ADA recommends you continue to supervise brushing until around 8). Make brushing time a part of your daily routine, and chat about the dentist. Be sure to pick a dentist that specializes in working with children that both you and your child are comfortable with. A bright, inviting dental office with toys for the patience is always a plus, as well as if they offer a variety of fluoride flavors and flosses. I won't take my daughter to a dental office that doesn't allow me in the room with her (yes, I've heard some do this —crazy!). Until she turned 4 all exams had to be done with her sitting on my lap (yea, we're a little AP), and I wanted to be emotionally supportive of her first dental experiences as well as active in learning what more we can do to improve her dental health.
Set an Example
Kids learn from you so make a point to tell your kiddos that you're going to go brush your teeth and discuss how you brush if they ask questions when watching you. I brush teeth with my kiddo at night, and sometimes in the morning to show her that I brush and floss, too. I also talk about the areas of the teeth that need the most attention, and why we floss. I just got a REACH® Advanced Design toothbrush (available at Walmart & Walgreens) 2-pack so that I'm prepared for the next few months of traveling (I like a separate travel toothbrush) and toothbrush replacement. This toothbrush is perfect for deep cleans with longer outer bristles and shorter ones on the inside for a good clean of the gumline and teeth. I also picked up a REACH® UltraClean toothbrush (available at Walgreens & Target) with soft bristles to use right now. I really enjoy the flexibility of these toothbrushes and that they come with a tongue cleaner on the back of the toothbrush head, too (I'm all about multitasking design). Plus, the UltraClean toothbrush I got is pink (super cute), makes my mouth feel sparkling clean and has an awesome thumb grip.
Make It Fun
One of Savannah's favorite things about brushing teeth is picking out the toothbrush! There are so many fun character toothbrushes out now that finding a toothbrush and toothpaste can feel safe and familiar for kids who are unsure about it. Lately, my kiddo's been on a Star Wars kick, so the REACH® UltraClean toothbrush we were sent to check out is so perfect for her. It lights up for a full 60 seconds so that she knows how long to brush now that she's brushing her own teeth (with supervision), and even says movie quotes and makes lightsaber sounds. The light feature is actually one of my favorite things about the Firefly® brand. We've bought some of their kids' brushes in the past and it not only helped me know how long to brush her teeth but kept her entertained while brushing. Since S has the whole spitting thing down now I've been meaning to introduce her to a mouthwash (most recommend ages 5 & up on the bottle, too) so the Firefly® Spider-Man Fun Pump Rinse came at the perfect time, too (I didn't even know Firefly® made mouth rinses)! If you couldn't tell already, my kiddo is really into superheroes so she was really excited when she spotted this mouth rinse. Before I could say anything, she was already opening it and testing it out! I love that it has a little compartment for the rinse cup, allowing it to stow away nicely and that it's sugar-free (who needs sugar in a dental product?) and alcohol-free.
Another way to make dental health fun? With a free trip to Hollywood! Firefly® recently launched their Lights, Camera, Smiles! sweepstakes on the Firefly® Facebook page. One lucky grand prize winner will win a trip for a family of four to the movie capital of the U.S. Enter, here!
How do you promote healthy dental habits in your home?