Disclosure: I received several products from Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc. and The Motherhood as part of my participation in this LISTERINE®” education program. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post, unless noted, are my own.
Parenting a tween or teen has many challenges. I spend quite a bit of time asking the same questions over and over. I know I’m not alone in this, too. It starts early with the reminders to wash hands, turn off lights, close doors.
You’d think by time they’re 10 or 11 they’d get tired of hearing us ask them these questions. But, the mind of a tween and young teen is so busy with other things the mundane and routine often gets overlooked. And at the same time their concern for how they look starts to take on more importance.
My interest in oral hygiene began early with routine visits to the dentist, followed by braces, and over a decade wearing a retainer. Over the years I’ve met many people who don’t like to smile or hide their smile because they don’t like their teeth. I get that not everyone can get their teeth fixed. But, what shocked me were the results of the May 2015 “The Social Impact of Poor Oral Health” survey conducted by LISTERINE Brands on the social implications of poor oral health. I figured that poor oral hygiene has implications on a person’s overall health and that it could affect other aspects of their lives. But, the extent to which poor oral hygiene can impact not only general health and hygiene, but career and relationships made me realize my diligence for myself was a good thing and that all those ‘did you brush your teeth’ questions are important.
I remember seeing movies with British characters and there were always jokes about how bad their teeth were because they’re British. Maybe in that context it’s funny. But the reality is that more than 7 in 10 Americans believe having an unhealthy mouth can negatively impact one’s confidence giving a speech (75%), and more than 6 in 10 believe it can affect a person’s willingness to speak in a meeting (64%), and their ability to lead a meeting (61%)*. Add to that similar statistics about relationship success, smiling, kissing, or being close to someone when talking and it’s easy to understand why it’s so important to instill good oral care habits in our kids.
While we shouldn’t judge people on their oral hygiene, the truth is we do. If you’re in a job that has a great deal of face to face engagement, you can’t help but be aware of the other person’s teeth and breath. This goes way beyond the garlic chicken at lunch or the broccoli stuck between the teeth. Daily we make judgements about people based on their teeth and breath. And we do this to kids as well as adults.
Today it could be reputation suicide if a middle or high schooler took a toothbrush to school, but back when I was a teen I packed a toothbrush and religiously brushed my teeth after lunch. Even back then I knew I didn’t want to be that kid with bad breath or food stuck in her braces. The social implications were very real back in the 80s.
Years ago, CycleGuy worked with one of the leading Periodontists in the country. I learned so much about the importance of good oral hygiene as we age. Oral health impacts the foods we can eat, our nutrition, and our weight and health. Many of us take this for granted because we brush and floss daily. But for those who don’t, it’s not just the bad breath or the discolored teeth. And while some dental issues are genetic, it’s all those times we were asked ‘Did you brush your teeth?’ and ‘Did you floss?’ that help us throughout our adult life.
So while my daughter rolls her eyes at me when I ask, I’ll continue to ask if she’s brushed her teeth and flossed. I’ll continue our family’s check-up schedule and we’ll keep using our Listerine Brand mouth rinse. BabyGirl began her dentist visits when she was about 6 months old. Sure, she was there because I was. But the dentist took a peek at her tiny tooth peeking through and encouraged me to keep wiping her gums and then begin brushing her lone tooth once it came in. She’s never been afraid of the dentist. We shouldn’t be afraid of the dentist.
Starting good oral care habits early make it easier as the kids get older. We always have an array of toothbrushes on hand because a worn out toothbrush is quite harmful to the teeth and gums. I buy Listerine mouth rinse in different flavors so we don’t get bored and forget to use it. And I have a number of different types of dental floss because we all have our favorites. Why? Because brushing alone misses 75% of your mouth.
If you’re interested in learning more or want to share your parenting success with getting your kids to brush and floss, I’ll be participating with the Motherhood and LISTERINE Brand in a 1-hour Twitter party on Tuesday, October 27th at 12 p.m. ET (9 a.m. PT). During the party, we’ll discuss the social and health impact of oral health care.
LISTERINE Brand is committed to promoting healthy oral care habits. That’s why the brand is partnering with Oral Health America, whose FALL FOR SMILES campaign educates the public about the positive impact good oral health can have on overall health and well-being. Oral Health America’s mission is so important to LISTERINE that the brand will be pledging $20K to support their work. We hope this inspires you to join them and help double the donation. During the Twitter party, use #LISTERINEgives to trigger a $10 donation from the LISTERINE Brand to Oral Health America (for a maximum donation of $40,000).
I hope you’ll join me in making a difference for our families and others. Because we all have a lot to smile about!
* LISTERINE Brand’s “The Social Impact of Poor Oral Health” Survey, GFK, May 2015