Keep your kids' teeth healthy without adding more stress to your life.
Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, wants to meet the wrong end of the dental drill.
If you’ve ever been there, you know it’s not a pleasant experience.
And as a parent, the prospect of my kid getting a needle full of anesthetic and a filling, is just too much. I’d do almost anything to avoid it.
Then again, some days the chaos of living life with three energetic and talkative children in tow wears down my resolve and I slack just a little.
Perhaps great oral hygiene takes a back seat to a speedy bed time.
If you’ve ever been there, maybe you can relate.
It’s okay. Your oral care routine doesn’t need to be perfect to get good results.
Here’s what my wife I are currently doing to help our kids (ages 8,5 and 4) to avoid the dental drill so far:
Tip #1: Focus on the bacteria in YOUR mouth first
This trick won't apply to all parents, but it is great advice for pregnant moms or those with newborns.
Start using xylitol gum to reduce the risk of passing cavity-causing bacteria to your young kids.
In 2001, a landmark study showed that kids of moms who chewed xylitol gum for the first couple years of their kid’s lives, had significantly less risk of catching cavity-causing bacteria by age 6.
Yes, you read that right. The moms chewed xylitol gum and the kids got the benefit!
That’s because xylitol helped the moms have a healthier balance of bacteria in their mouths that they could then pass on to their kids.
Fewer cavity-causing bacteria means less chance your kids get cavities.
Bonus Tip: Use xylitol toothwipes to further protect your young kid’s teeth from cavity-causing bacteria before they can chew gum or use mints.
Tip #2: Establish a routine
Routines help simplify our lives by eliminating decisions and reducing friction. Here are the key parts to our kid’s oral care routine:
- Brush before breakfast and at least 30 minutes after dinner. That’s because brushing right after meals risks driving acid into the teeth, weakening them.
- Use the “Your Turn, My Turn” method. Kids crave control (at least ours do). That’s why we let them have the first go at brushing. It makes for a positive experience. When they’re done, Mom or Dad get a turn and can focus on making sure we thoroughly clean all of the tooth surfaces.
- Follow brushing and meals with Epic xylitol mints. Our kids love the flavor of these and they are great way to keep bacterial baddies at bay.
Tip #3: Strive for Good Enough
As parents, we’ve learned to pick our battles. Rather than worrying about perfection, we strive for good enough.
With oral care, that usually means we try to limit eating to meal and snack times and to follow exposures to food or drink with xylitol gum or mints.
We don’t let our kids carry around bottles of sugary juice or soda, but if they want some at meal times, we generally oblige. Again, we follow these exposures with xylitol gum or mints to help buffer against the acid.
Good enough also means that we prioritize our kids having a good relationship with oral hygiene, so if we can only get 1 minute of brushing in before they are itching for a break, we don’t stress that it should have been 2 minutes. Better that they learn the habit, than get it perfect.
Good enough works for us because we know we can trust that if our kids do enough of the right things that their regular use of xylitol should make up the difference.
PS – If you’re the kind of parents, who maybe, occasionally (or even regularly) like to relax to social media, we (Donald & Monica Bailey) would love to connect with you. We’re sharing our best dental (and life tips) on our personal account on TikTok and Instagram. Hope to see you there.