My kids have bad teeth. There, I said it. It’s hard to admit, and it’s hard to deal with, but it’s the truth. I try my best to ensure they eat healthy. We brush their teeth religiously. We started taking them to the dentist for check-ups as soon as each child had teeth. My daughter knows how to floss her teeth and does it nearly every night (nearly, because let’s be real, some nights we all crash before finishing the bedtime routine). The older kids do a fluoride rinse. Yet it seems like each time we go to the dentist, they have a new cavity.
“I swear we brush their teeth!” I tell the dentist at every visit. I wonder if he believes me. I wonder if anyone believes me. The guilt I feel when I hear that one of them has a cavity is crushing. And humiliating. From the condition of their teeth, one would assume we give them gummy bears and soda for breakfast.
During our last filling appointment, I had a heart to heart with the dentist; well, as heart to heart as you can get with your dentist. I explained my frustration to him, and he gave me some encouragement. He said that in general, doing all the “right things” reduces the risk of cavities, but on an individual level, it doesn’t always work that way. He said he has seen children who clearly are not doing the right things, yet have no cavities, and then he’s seen kids like mine who are obviously doing what they should, but still get cavities. It was an ah-ha moment for me. And one that made me want to share my story because I know I’m not the only one out there. I’ve been working even harder to keep my kids teeth healthy, and I’m hoping when we go for our next checkup, they will not have any new cavities!
If your children have “bad teeth” here are some tips to help:
*obviously these tips are helpful for anyone, but especially those of us who struggle to keep our kiddos cavity free!
Brush, brush, brush! If possible, brush after every meal. (This is RARELY possible at my house, but we try). At the very least, have them drink some water after eating to help rinse off anything that may be stuck to the teeth.
Floss. Even if it doesn’t look like they need their teeth flossed, remember to floss. They sell individual floss picks that really help my kids floss their teeth, and it helps me get to the harder to reach back teeth.
Have your children use a fluoride rinse. We use Tom’s. We still do not trust the kids with fluoride toothpaste, but they do really well with the rinse. We use it a couple times a week (because again, I’m being real here), but nightly would be best. Xylitol is another substance added to certain toothpastes and rinses that may help reduce tooth decay.
Limit sugar, even fruit. This is our biggest problem. My kids love fruit. They drink smoothies in the morning, and their snacks often include fruit. Just like many of you, we have our own war on vegetables going on in our house, so my kids eating a lot of fruit makes me feel better. But fruit has a lot of sugar, so we should limit how much they get, or at least be sure the kids drink water after eating fruit.
Let go of the guilt. If you are doing the best you can to keep your children’s teeth clean and cavity free, there is no reason to feel bad if they end up with a cavity (or two, or four). It was hard for me to hear that not one, but two of my children needed fillings, but I know I am doing all that I can.