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Five ways to help kids keep a healthy smile

Feb 08, 2013

February is National Children's Dental Health Month
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February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Have you hugged a dentist yet? Better hurry because it’s a short month! This month’s blog theme is about oral hygiene for those mini-me’s who child specialists like to call “pre-adolescents,” politicians like to refer to as “future generations,” and Toys R Us© likes to think of as "ka-chiing."

We will deal with simple, proven steps parents can take to help their kids practice good oral hygiene, maintain bright smiles and build a lifetime habit of healthy teeth and gums.

To kick off our series let’s look at five easy ways parents can help kids keep a healthy smile.

Children develop good habits by repetition and it helps to have some fun while doing it! There are a lot of fun toothbrushes and toothpastes available for young children, and two worth checking out are FireFly® toothbrushes and chocolate toothpaste called Theodent™.

FireFly® Ready Go toothbrushes flash for one minute while your child brushes either their top or bottom row of teeth. After the lights quit flashing, the child activates the light a second time and brushes their other row of teeth. FireFly brushes come in a variety of fun style and colors, including Barbie, Spiderman, Hot Wheels, Snoopy, Hello Kitty, Superman, Batman, Scooby-Doo and more.

Theodent™ is a non-fluoride toothpaste that contains Rennou™, an ingredient its makers say is more effective than fluoride. The chocolate toothpaste has been available for just over a year and is sold at Whole Foods Market®.

Attack of the Snacks Sodas, sports and energy drinks all slowly destroy tooth enamel.  Regular consumption of these foods is like a 15-minute bath soak for the pearlies – in acid! And it’s not just sodas, sports and energy drinks. Many fruit juices and kids’ drinks contain vast amounts of sugar. Experts advise those who regularly drink 100 percent fruit juice to limit their consumption to four to six ounces because of the high sugar levels in those juices.

For those who drink sugary beverages regularly, experts suggest consuming them within 15 minutes and brushing your teeth or drinking water as a “chaser.” It’s also a good idea to nix drinking sodas with your meals to avoid dueling acids.

As for snacks, sugary and starchy foods can also seriously damage tooth enamel. For instance, sour candy manufacturers add extra acids or different acids to make their candies pucker worthy. These candies are particularly damaging for children because their enamel is more porous than that of teens and adults.

Picture a marshmallow over a campfire and you get the picture.

Preventive dentistry Remember the adage, “Time is money?” Teaching your child preventive care like brushing, flossing and regular visits to the dentist can potentially save you lots of money. On the other hand, allowing your child to ignore these daily habits and regular dental visits can end up costing you dough, possibly lots of it in the long run.

It has been said by people smarter than I (but probably not as adorable) that a dentist is our first line of defense in identifying dental molehills before they become oral mountains. 

Schedule your child’s first dental visit by the time they are one year old.  The first visit is usually painless for you and your child. Dentists often instruct parents on how to clean their child’s teeth and advise on avoiding infant pitfalls like bedtime bottles and sippy cups. Tip: Thou shalt not put a child to bed with milk or fruit juice because they cling to teeth, feed oral bacteria and trigger tooth decay.

Even if your baby has just one tooth, you can begin brushing their gums with gauze. As additional teeth develop, buy infant toothbrushes with very soft bristles. Flossing should begin when two teeth touch each other and ideally be done once daily. Have your dentist show you the right flossing technique and schedule. 

Be a good yolk and try this eggsperiment The good folks at Crest® have created a cool “eggsperiment” that shows kids how teeth can become soft and weak when exposed to the acids in everyday foods. Specifically the eggsperiment demonstrates how anti-cavity toothpastes like, let’s say Crest®, help protect teeth. The eggspermiment takes five to six days and calls for vinegar, toothpaste with sodium fluoride and a few other common household items. You can find instructions and the needed ingredients here.

Monkey See, Monkey Do Everyone in the house should brush twice daily and floss. Good habits are acquired early, and if kids see their parents doing what they tell their kids to do, it reinforces the desired behavior. Some parents like to brush their teeth with their kids, but if you do be sure to do it before your child gets tired. If your child usually nods off at 9:00, have them do their nightly brushing/flossing at 8:15 or 8:30 before the Sandman appears.

Thanks for reading Agent Straight-Talk. Stay tuned all month for more exciting tips for your kids during our pediatric dental series. And remember: A friendly look, a kindly smile, one good act, and life’s worthwhile.  Email comments to:


Copyright 2013, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC©

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