I was a fastidious brusher when I was a child; you don’t have to tell me twice how important proper dental care is. I was such a champion tooth brusher that my dentist encouraged me to brush with my non-dominant hand because I was brushing a bit too vigorously and had started to wear off my gums.
(As you can imagine, little overachieving me was actually proud of that fact — now, not so much.)
Not only that, but I spent a lot of time in my corporate days observing focus groups full of hygienists and dentists, all in the name of finding ways to get people to brush their teeth. It’s harder than you’d think, but I like to think I was reasonably successful. I was a dental hygiene superhero, if you will.
And then I had kids.
My kids don’t have any dental problems so far, but getting them to brush is challenging. My two-year-old refuses to let me brush his teeth because he prefers to do it himself — this will be awesome in a few years but right now he just lacks the skills to do it correctly. And I’m suspicious of how well my older ones brush at times — they’re very good about letting me help them, but when we’re rushing in the mornings it’s a little hard to supervise all three.
But here’s a little trick I learned from all those focus groups so many years ago. When you can’t brush, spit.
Nothing beats brushing and flossing (gently!) but rinsing is a great way to remove at least some of the acids and sugars that eat away at tooth enamel and lead to cavities. Fluoride reduces cavities and strengthens tooth enamel, so brushing with a fluoride-containing toothpaste and following up with a fluoride mouthwash is even better than with plain water — but in the real world, flushing your mouth with water after eating and drinking will help. It remove vestiges of the food in your mouth, and sometimes that’s as good as it’s going to get for a bit. So I let my kids go into the bathroom and spit, even if it’s just tap water, when we’re away from our toothbrushes.
As you can imagine, the boys LOVE it. Mom-approved spitting, FTW!
I received products from Johnson & Johnson as part of my participation in the LISTERINE® Kids Cavity-Free School Year Program. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own. Click here to see more of the discussion.