I’ve spent much time sharing with you the ways in which I scrimp and save to maintain my frugal lifestyle. But, there are some areas of my life where I don’t like to cut corners; dental care is one of them. I learned from a young age that it is important to take care of my teeth, and have carried that on to my own family. We have dental cleanings and exams twice per year, and of course we make sure to brush daily. So far we have all been fortunate to avoid serious dental issues. Regular dental exams can be pricey, but it sure beats having a painful dental emergency or expensive repairs!
What can you do to keep your entire mouth healthy between visits to the dentist? I recently participated in a live chat with a panel of experts sponsored by Johnson & Johnson and The Motherhood where I learned some important facts and great advice.
Did you know?
- Your mouth can harbor more germs than there are people on earth. Brushing your teeth is a great start, but it misses 75% of your mouth
- Using an antiseptic mouthwash for 30 seconds twice per day can provide 24-hour protection from the bacteria that cause plaque and gingivitis
- More than 50 percent of kids between the ages of 5 and 9 have had a cavity or filling
- Approximately 75 percent of American adults have a form of gum disease without even realizing it
Even though I brush twice per day, I’m not great about flossing or using mouthwash, and (as many busy moms can probably relate), even my brushing is often rushed. I take pretty good care of my teeth, but I can do even better. I agreed to team up with Johnson & Johnson and The Motherhood to participate in an Oral Care Challenge along with my family. We will be trying out some new products that we haven’t used before in order to improve our oral health and build healthier habits. I received a great selection of Listerine and Reach products to get us started.
Listerine is probably the first brand that comes to mind when you think mouthwash. Did you know they make a fun line of rinses especially for children ages 6 and up called Smart Rinse? This fluoride rinse protects teeth against cavities and strengthens teeth 99 percent better than brushing alone.
Smart Rinse (which contains no stinging alcohol) comes in a variety of flavors that kids will love, like Berry Shield, Bubble Blast, Fab Bubble Gum and Mint Shield. Favorite characters are a tried and true way of getting kids on board with healthier habits, and to that end you can find Smart Rinse bottles featuring Phineas and Ferb, Barbie and Batman. Unlike adult rinse products, Smart Rinse comes in a pump bottle (something gimmick-loving kids are sure to enjoy) to help ensure proper dosage. The rinse tints food particles so that your child can see the yuck that was in his or her mouth even after brushing.
Reach takes care of kids’ brushing needs with character-themed toothbrushes that you can match up with their chosen Smart Rinse.
Designed for ages three and up, the brushes feature a wide handle designed for little hands, an angled neck, bi-level bristles and a cleaning tip.
For the grown-ups, Listerine has provided their tried and true Listerine Antiseptic mouthwash and a new Listerine Total Care Zero mouthwash, which does not contain alcohol. I have to admit that I am a wimp, and that stinging feeling from regular mouthwash has kept me from making it a habit. I am really looking forward to trying the Total Care Zero wash, which I expect to be a lot gentler on my mouth.
Listerine Antiseptic has been clinically proven to kill bacteria and prevent and reduce plaque and gingivitis. Of course people have also relied on it for years to control bad breath. Listerine Total Care Zero is a fluoride mouthwash designed to protect teeth against cavities. It also works to restore enamel, kill bad breath-causing germs and cleans the whole mouth.
One thing I do want to note about all of the mouthwash products is that they include artificial coloring. Unfortunately the Total Care Zero contains Red 40, but their other rinse products come in a variety of colors, so if a particular artificial coloring is a problem for you hopefully you can find something that will meet your needs.
I received two very fancy Reach toothbrushes that my husband and I will use: Total Care + Whitening and Total Care Multi-Action.
The Total Care + Whitening brush features “Calcium Carbonate Micrawhitening Technology” to whiten teeth and remove stains. I had never heard of a whitening toothbrush, so it will be interesting to see how it works (I’m letting my husband use it). I’ll admit that I chose the Total Care Multi-Action for myself mainly because I loved the colors, but I’m also looking forward to experiencing the “multi-directional cleaning and polishing elements”.
And then we have floss. I will start by saying that I am not a fan of floss. In fact, I would say I’m borderline floss-phobic, if that’s a thing. I cannot handle floss getting stuck under teeth, the bleeding, and worst of all shredding floss. When floss splits apart it gives me the heebie jeebies. Though I think it’s physically impossible, I imagine the floss cutting through my tooth like a block of cheese. Gross, I know. Sorry. I think we’ve thoroughly established that I don’t like to floss. But I know I need to. Reach sent two different kinds, and I think one of them will work even for me!
First we have the standard woven floss in Icy Mint infused with Cleanpaste formula. It has a nice smell and flavor, but one look at the fluffy string tells me it’s the stuff my nightmares are made of. Sorry, Reach. My husband can use it. However, the Reach Total Care Mint Floss with Micro-Grooves Technology is a product I am glad to wrap around my teeth. It promises to “slide like Glide” (a shred-proof plastic floss also from Reach) while removing more plaque. I’ve already tested it, and it’s definitely something I can tolerate. I like it when companies find solutions for everyone.
What about young kids?
At three years old, my son is still too young to use a lot of fluoride products, and he can’t be relied upon to spit out toothpaste or mouthwash (especially when it’s tasty). Since Smart Rinse is designed for ages 6 and up, that’s out of the question for him.
During the live chat, many moms like myself were wondering how we can keep our younger kids’ mouths healthy. Here are a few things I learned:
- Dental care needs to start young. Pediatric dentists can start seeing children as young as one year old, and they can help provide important education to parents about healthy habits. Starting at age three, children should visit the dentist every six months. My son just had his second dental exam recently, and he did great!
- Make oral hygiene a game to help kids learn while also making it fun for them. If they’re old enough to use a rinse, see who can swish the longest without spitting (if they’re too young, try practicing with water). Use rewards like a sticker chart to help build and maintain good habits.
- I thought my son was too young for a fluoride toothpaste, but at age three he is old enough to use a pediatric toothpaste containing fluoride. The pediatric dentist recommended a pea-sized amount, or a “smear layer” (wiping the toothpaste from the end of the tube without squeezing). Even if my son doesn’t do a great job spitting it out, he won’t swallow enough fluoride to hurt him.
- Avoid using adult toothpaste for kids. It may contain ingredients in concentrations that aren’t safe, and the biting taste of minty pastes can make brushing an unpleasant experience for kids. There are a variety of toothpastes designed specifically for kids of different ages.
I will be writing more about my personal experience with these products at the end of the challenge, so stay tuned!