I was kindly invited to a roundtable discussion on Wednesday evening at the Charlotte Street Hotel as part of Colgate’s Oral Health Month and WOW did I learn a lot about mine and my kid’s teeth and how to keep them ‘Simon Cowell looking healthy white and sparkly’ (without the veneers of course).
Seriously, it was truly enlightening thanks to Nutritionist, Nigel Denby, Dentist, Simon Khoury and Psychologist, Prof. Karen Pine who shared their knowledge on how to get you and your kids brushing properly, supporting teeth with your diet and fighting dentist fears head on.
I returned with all the wisdom (get it, OK I’ll stop now), more determined than ever to ensure the kids brush properly and look how much they are enjoying their new electric toothbrushes. Thanks Colgate.
1. Brush teeth twice a day before bed and another time and it doesn’t have to be in the morning. Who knew? Of course you probably want a fresh smelling mouth before your early morning commute but you honestly don’t have to. The dentist there told me so. He also informed us he became a dentist because he was scared of dentists. True story. Amazing.
2. You should not use water when brushing. Honest. Told you you’d learn a lot reading this. Simply use your toothpaste on the brush, clean your teeth and don’t rinse the toothpaste out with water as washing fluoride takes the protection away. You’re welcome.
3. If your dentist recommends a fluoride mouthwash, use it at a different time from brushing to increase protection. Makes total teeth sense, right!
4. Babies and children can use electric toothbrushes. Really. Oliver and Alexander adored their gifted electric toothbrushes so much so that my eldest took it to his first day of Preschool before proceeding to educate his classmates that electric toothbrushes were best. Especially those with pictures of Spiderman on them. Alexander didn’t mind the vibrations in his mouth and mirrored us all using our electric ones, cleaning his teeth solo at 11 months old. A future dentist in the house?
5. Time your brushing. In our Colgate event goody bag, we were also given a tooth shaped 2 minute timer along with a reward chart. You can use anything to ensure you and your family brush for the advised 2 minutes though, your phone, alarm clock, just don’t try and guess 2 minutes because it simply will not work. Psychologist, Prof. Karen Pine gave us an exercise to try and guess 2 minutes where we would mingle, drink, eat (thank you Colgate) then form a queue when we thought the time was up. Think I estimated 38 seconds as 2 minutes. Fail.
…Oliver loved using the timer and ticking his reward chart afterwards. Praise and reward people and by that I mean the paper/sticker variety, not sweets of course.
6. Kids can move onto a family toothpaste from 4 years old however, child friendly toothpastes such as the range from our friends at Colgate, gradually initiate kids into the minty taste as adult toothpastes tend to be too strong for little mouths.
7. Our American neighbours love a good floss but we seem less enthusiastic about the bacteria bashing tape in Britain, so essential in keeping teeth and gums clean. There are lots of similar teeth tools if you don’t like flossing tape though so do ask your dentist and shop around.
8. I know the importance of a healthy diet and reducing sugar but the latter really is crucial for keeping you and your kids’ teeth and gums healthy. And it’s not just the sweets and juice you need to curb. Fruit has a lot of sugar in it too, especially dried fruit. Nutritionalist Nigel Denby informed us that raisins in particular are truly terrible for your kid’s teeth and advised offering your young ones slices of apple with cheese or yoghurt to help balance sugars in the mouth and bloodstream.
9. Get your kids used to the dentist early on. In preparation, watch positive children’s programmes/ read books about the dentist with your child. The episode where Peppa Pig visits the dentist is popular and available online, gently introducing children to having their teeth checked. Do register your baby with your own dentist early on and take him or her as soon as you like. You take your baby to the doctor so why not the dentist.
10. If you as a parent are scared of the dentist, try not to pass these fears onto your children. Prof. Karen Pine advised taking them with you to your check ups (not when you’re having work done of course) and remember to try and hide your fears, refrain from fearful expressions or comments alluding to being scared about the dentist (that includes all the family) as children pick up on negative vibes easily. Keep smiling even if you don’t feel like it when visiting the dentist so the experience is pleasant, encouraging your kids that appointments to check teeth are fun as well as neccessary.
So lots of fascinating things I never knew about keeping teeth healthy. Right, I’m off to clean my teeth with an electric toothbrush, no water and I will be flossing! *huge sparkly grin to follow.
For more info on your children’s teeth visit Colgate Oral Health Month.
Photographs ©Peter Broadbent.