We know that parenting properly is a lot of hard work.
Between soccer games, violin recitals, and, more recently, trying to figure out how to manage school from home the odds are good that, if you’re parenting, you’ve got a lot on your plate right now.
When you’ve been run that ragged, it’s far too easy to let some of the most important things slide on by without notice. Every parent has been there: sometimes, you’re simply so exhausted from trying to get your kids to actually eat some vegetables this week that it’s not until well past midnight that you realize you forgot to make sure they brushed their teeth.
Helping your kids develop good oral health habits is important, but sometimes it’s just hard to find the time and energy to make it a priority.
The good news is that helping your kids be cavity-free is not only possible, but simple. It can even be fun!
If you’re a parent who has struggled to find time to champion oral health, you’re in luck. Welcome to Epic’s Simple Guide to Cavity-Free Kids.
Helping Your Kids Brush Effectively
At our last appointment, my dentist dropped a bombshell on us: He said that kids simply don’t have the focus or manual dexterity necessary to brush their own teeth effectively until about the age of 9. Any younger than that, and they’re likely doing a slapdash job at best.
It may seem silly, but you might try having a toothbrush party as a family: everyone brushing together. Brushing with your kids instead of standing over them like the world’s most imperious toothbrush trainer can go a long way towards helping your kids understand that brushing can be simple, painless, and even fun.
Here’s the other thing to remember: Expecting you or your kids to superbly scrub and flawlessly floss every last square milometer of those pearly whites is a pretty big ask. Instead, we recommend that you introduce some tools that will help cover the gaps that you’re bound to miss.
I’m definitely a little biased, but Epic Xylitol Toothpaste is exactly that kind of an oral health support system. While most toothpastes are focused on helping you feel like you’re getting work done, Epic Toothpaste is happy to stand back and do its work quietly. It’s packed with oodles of xylitol, the cavity-crushing sweetener that’s beloved by dental experts worldwide precisely because it gives the results you need with just a “good enough” effort.
One bit of feedback we’ve received over and over is that our lone flavor for Epic Toothpaste isn’t super kid-friendly. Don’t worry, we hear you. In fact, we’ve put together a special flavor formula just for kids, so make sure you’re on our email list to keep in touch for when it becomes available for order!
Make Visiting the Dentist Fun
I know that, even as an adult, taking time out of your routine to have your teeth inspected and your gums prodded by gloved strangers isn’t exactly the wildest party in town. However, making sure that visiting the dentist is a fun, positive experience for your kids helps to lay a solid foundation of good health habits for the rest of their lives.
The first step in this process is a simple assessment - how are your current dentist and her staff with your kids? Not every dentist or hygienist is born equal, and some of them are simply going to be better with the kids than others, and it’s totally ok to shop around a bit if your appointments don’t feel as comfortable as you’d like.
Especially if you have young kids, teaching them from an early age (even as young as 3 or 4 years old) that going to the dentist is a normal part of life and nothing to fear can go a long way. It’s easy to justify avoiding the hassle (especially since kids that young are going to have all their current teeth fall out anyway!), but consider these appointments as a practice run for their real, permanent teeth. If they don’t practice when the stakes are low, your kids aren’t going to know what to do when it really matters.
Depending on your schedule and options, making the rest of the day a fun, rewarding experience can help, too. If your kids know that spending an hour or two at the dentist’s office means they get the rest of the day out of school, they’re more likely to approach the experience with positivity. Obviously that’s not an option for everyone, but finding similar opportunities to reward or encourage good behavior around appointments can go a long way.
What most parents don’t know is that the real cause of cavities (particularly in kids) isn’t sugar, but exposure to tooth-dissolving acid. Acidic foods and drinks can cause repeated cavities in kids, depending on when and how often they’re being consumed. Juice is a pretty big culprit, here - they’re mostly pretty acidic, and so frequent juice breaks throughout the day can add up to incredible damage to your kids’ smiles.
Now, that’s not to say that you need to ban all acidic foods from the house. In fact, exposure to oral acid is nearly inevitable no matter how many things you cut back. The real concern has to do with the frequency of acid attacks. Ask yourself, how often are your kids’ teeth exposed?
It takes about 30 minutes after introducing an acidic food or drink for the acidity to be neutralized by saliva. In the meantime, your kids’ teeth are taking small, minute amounts of damage that add up over time.
The catch is that every time acid is reintroduced, the neutralizing process has to start all over again. If your kids are sipping on juice or acidic snacks all throughout the day, their smiles are basically being lowered into a tooth-dissolving acid bath like Batman right before a commercial break.
We can definitely do better than that.
The first step is just to manage exposure to acid - instead of allowing acidic snacks between meals, try to consolidate your eating times so you have fewer exposures per day. Over time, this adds up to a lot of extra protection.
Instead of acidic snacks, you might try something like Epic Xylitol Mints, or, as we like to call them, “ smile vitamins”. Kids love them (especially the Fresh Fruit flavor), but instead of tooth-eroding acid, they’re actually actively combating cavities through the power of xylitol.
As a parent, I’ve definitely learned that big, sweeping changes to routine are often unsustainable. You are who you are and your habits are already ingrained, so trying to make huge changes is an uphill battle.
Instead, making a couple of small improvements here and there is not only more realistic, but more likely to produce substantial good outcomes.
As always, I’m sure we missed some great ideas along the way. Let us know what solutions you’ve found to keep your kids happy, healthy, and cavity free!