Whenever I'm asked what I notice first about people one of my immediate responses is teeth/ smile. I can't help. I'm a sucker for nice teeth. I think it stems from years of having braces and being overly concerned about my oral hygiene.
Even after I got my braces off I was hyper diligent about keeping my teeth clean and wearing my retainers.
My Freshman R.A used to tease me in college because I was perpetually rushing off to brush my teeth after meals. Chalk it up to having had pizza stuck in my braces one too many times and no one saying anything (thanks high school friends!) I made it a point to always have my toothbrush on or around me. It was definitely a running joke but laugh all they wanted, my teeth stayed straight and healthy.
Fast forward a few years of not having my parents remind me to make dental and orthodontia appointments and I was soon victim to tooth decay in the form of several cavities. So much so that I had to have a root canal. Oh my word. Not anything I ever wanted to repeat.
When I had my own kids it suddenly dawned on me that oral hygiene was more than just brushing daily. I had to think about what she was eating and how that was affecting her teeth. And when I first learned about bottle rot? Where a baby's teeth or gums can rot because they fall asleep w/ the bottle nipple in their mouth and then they end up w/ silver teeth as toddlers because of tooth decay? Omigosh no! So yeah - early brushing and all that for Sweet Pea. But my personal fears of the dentist held me back from taking her so it wasn't until she was about 4.5 that she went to have a formal check-up. Terrible, I know. I was young okay? Judge your mom.
While she had a bit of sweet tooth thanks to our fabulous family genes - she never really had an issue with cavaties thank goodness. But that wasn't the case for most of her friends, roughly 20% of children ages 5-11 have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
The upside is I know that tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in kids age 6-11 and among adolescents age 12-19 so even though we were a little late getting her to the dentist - we were sort of okay?
Like most mom's I try to tow the line on moderation when it comes to sweet treats for my kids. I don't want to be so strict they binge whenever and wherever they can but I don't want my 5 year-old walking around with silver teeth either. So when it comes to holidays I still keep a watchful eye over how much they consume. And it's not just the chocolates they might get - it's the cupcakes, cookies, juice and suckers they get at their class parties,
So because I'm full of random facts here are some useful tidbits to help you and your family in your quest for clean teeth:
· Fluoride is an anti-cavity active ingredient available in over-the-counter (OTC) products that helps prevent tooth decay and cavities.
· The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend using a smear of fluoridated toothpaste at tooth eruption
· Children under the age of 6 should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and be supervised in order to develop good brushing and rinsing habits and to minimize product swallowing.
· Parents and caregivers should help a child brushing his or her teeth until mastery is obtained, usually around age 8.
Now I say all this to say - go forth and enjoy your sweet treats and let the little ones get busy too. Just remember to make them brush their teeth after!
How well do your kids brush their teeth?