Over the last few weeks we have been participating in the Listerine #HealthyHabits for a Lifetime Oral Care Challenge in an effort to become more educated and aware of our oral care habits. Here's what I found out…our habits sucked. As I mentioned in my previous post I am not exactly the most rigid person when it comes to my own personal oral care habits and unfortunately I have passed that on to my children. Anyone who knows me will be shocked to find out I don't have a tooth brushing schedule in place at my house because I am all about routines and schedules. I think because I have never really had any major dental problems I take my teeth for granted and if I continue to do this and teach my children my bad habit then someday we will all be toothless and in trouble. This challenge is just what we needed. This also couldn't have come at a better time for my 2 older kids because my son just got braces last month and my daughter will have hers in the next few weeks and the need for good habits is even more important when add braces to the equation.
Importance of Good Oral Care
Here are a few reasons why good oral care is so important
- Nearly 75 percent of American adults suffer from various forms of periodontal (gum) disease* and don’t know it.
- According to a survey conducted by the makers of LISTERINE® and REACH®, over one-third of Americans don’t eat their favorite foods or smile in photos because of dental problems like cavities, tooth pain and gingivitis.
- Even sadder, 15 percent don’t kiss their loved ones.
- Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease affecting children in the U.S.
- In fact, 50 percent of children will have a cavity or filling between the ages of 5 and 9.
- The surgeon general reports that 51 million school hours are missed each year because of dental-related illness.
What Can I Do?
So, you are reading this and thinking "geez, maybe my family needs a little help with our oral care, what can I do?" Well, here are a few of my suggestions to get you started.
- Take the kids shopping. Let them get involved in the decisions about the products they will be using to take care of their teeth. You would be surprised at the difference a Perry the Platypus toothbrush makes over a plain old red one.
- Let them do it themselves. Yes, I understand that sometimes with younger kids you may need to intervene in order to ensure they are getting all their teeth but you know how kids like to be independant…the more responsibility you give them the easier it will be to get them to do what you want. Example….The Smart Rinse mouth wash has a really cool dispensing system. In the neck of the bottle it has measuring lines, when you squeeze the bottle the liquid rises up into the neck so you can get the right amount with out spilling everywhere! The first night we used it I squeezed the bottle, poured the rinse into a cup and handed it to my son, he wanted no parts of it. The next night I let him squeeze the bottle..BINGO he used the rinse that night.
- Rewards. Call it bribery, black mail, whatever you like, but it works. Make a chart, keep track each day if who brushes, rinses and flosses. Give bonus points for doing it without whining or being asked. Make it a family competition, my 12 year old is "too old" for a reward chart..but he's not too old to try to beat his siblings in a challenge! The rewards don't have to be extreme or expensive, maybe the winner that week gets to pick what's for dinner on Friday night, or they get to assign one of their weekly chores to another member of the family for the following week.
- Set a good example. Don't just preach to your kids about how important it is to follow good oral care habits, YOU DO IT TOO. This was my biggest problem. I was always telling them to go brush and floss and they never saw floss in my hand and saw me only brushing my teeth once a day.
Armed with our cool new Phineas and Ferb, Barbie (don't ask who used this one), and adult Reach toothbrushes and a full selection of Listerine mouth wash we started our journey to healthier habits.
I'm not going to lie..it was tough at first, much like me most of the kids have a terrible gag reflex and had a hard time with the mouth wash. The 30 minutes you are supposed to wait after using the rinse to ensure it does it's job and doesn't get washed away..LONGEST 30 MINUTES OF MY LIFE. Not because I needed a drink but because the kids were whining like their mouths were on fire and they would DIE if they didn't have a drink RIGHT NOW. I'm happy to report that it only took about 5 days before they settled down and realized they were not going to die.
The kids are now brushing every morning and evening as well as after some meals. They are using the Smart Rinse each night without too much opposition and we are working on the flossing..we'll get there soon I hope. I am extremely appreciative that we were selected to participate in this campaign we really needed the wake up call that it provided.
Looking for More Info on Healthy Oral Care Habits?
Here are some helpful links
Walmart – Great page with tip sheets and info about oral care
Listerine Kids – Resources for parents about how to help kids with oral care, games, coupons and product info
Disclosure ~ I received products and compensation from The Motherhood as part of my participation in this program. All opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by the brands involved in this campaign.