Avoiding a visit from the cavity fairy.

Kids dentist

The CRUNCH:
Avoiding a visit from the cavity fairy.

CRUNCH deets:
You survived the drooling, the bubbles, and the cutting of the first tooth. Then came a mouthful of chompers you managed to avoid when she nursed. At least, most of the time. Awesome! Except now… what else do you need to know?

The Fix:
Teach her to own her good habits.

Fix deets:
If you’re still struggling with teething pains, we’ve heard great things about camamilla and pulsatilla*. Our babies enjoyed gnawing on frozen washcloths and breadsticks (after allergies had been ruled out, natch), and when they were super cranky or woke up at night we didn’t hesitate to Infant Tylenol it for immediate relief and a good night’s sleep.

Our doc recommended wiping toothless gums with a wet cloth, which we occasionally remembered to do, and switching to a brush around nine months. I splurged and bought not one but TWO toothbrushes so no one was fighting to grab it out of my hand while I was trying to get ‘er done. I’d brush those little chiclets with “my” brush while exaggerating my facial expression or singing a song, they’d brush/play/chew with “their” brush while suspiciously keeping an eye on me, and we’d swap whenever they decided the brush in my hand looked more appealing (about every twenty seconds). We initially brushed during bathtime, it seemed like the smart play so they wouldn’t drool all over their pj’s. Now that Lola’s a little bigger and sits on the potty before her bath (not to actually do anything just to, ya know, hang out) we do the brush-share while she’s seated and desperate for entertainment, which also gives me better access to her teeth without that awkward leaning across our clawfoot tub.

When we first started brushing Alex’s teeth about seven years ago, we were advised to use fluoride-free toothpaste. We dutifully researched the best green options and bought a much-hyped brand from our local health store. Fast forward to his first dental visit at age three and the joy of discovering he had not one but TWO cavities. Oh the joy. Turns out the fluoride-free paste we’d been using was actually doing more harm than good – some experts liken it to brushing your teeth with sugar. Doh! We immediately switched him over to toothpaste with fluoride, making sure to smear only a very small amount onto his brush and also making sure he spits it all out… which is delightful for the person who gets to clean the sink afterwards. Our doc suggested that we nix the toothpaste for Lola, brushing only with water until she can challenge her bros to a spitting contest and come out on top. And boy are her brothers having fun with that!

Along with skipping fluoride-free toothpaste, we skip the specially designed flossers for kids. It seems they’re not a heck of a lot better than not flossing at all since the rigid design means they can’t hug the tooth like an old-school-string does. We got into a routine where each munchkin takes turns lying with his/her head in one of our laps while we floss and his/her sibs take advantage of the head-lock to poke/tickle an exposed “beebo”. Sure, this adds a few minutes to our getting-ready-for-bed drill, but if it means we never have to talk a kid through another cavity-fill then oh man, is it ever worth it. Alex is old enough to floss on his own (or maybe he’s just been tickled one too many times) and Lola won’t lie for longer than it takes to swipe three gaps (if we’re lucky), but at her age it’s more about getting her into the routine. Jack cooperates like a champ and doesn’t have any cavities yet… fingers crossed!

Remember this:
Good habits are a lot easier to introduce if you work them in at an early age – before you hit the “No, mommy, no,” phase. Making it part of the routine while also making it fun is the easiest way to get anyone to cooperate about anything, whether it’s dental hygiene, grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, or shovelling. Anyone else building a lotta snow families these days?

Leave a comment below or email us if you need help getting her in that dental chair!

*In home personal trainer Andi Clark provided us with TONS of naturopath info for all kinds of ailments. She can be contacted through her biz for more info: www.homefit.ca

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4 thoughts on “Avoiding a visit from the cavity fairy.

  1. This is a good one with really helpful info and tips! Our youngest hates the taste of toothpaste, so we’ve just been brushing with water. With this info about the fluoride-free paste doing more harm than good, I’m glad water is currently all that we use. Will have to borrow your spitting contest idea with both kids when the time comes to introduce floride paste. Thanks for this !!

  2. Eck. I was just brushing with water and then my doctor told me to use the flouride free toothpaste (Oragel). If my kids can’t quite spit yet, should I go back to water!? Why does everyone have to have conflicting opinions!?

    Besos, Sarah
    Blogger at Journeys of The Zoo

    • Yup – so many experts claiming their contradicting theories are correct! As with everything parenting, do what you feel is best. After much research and our doc & dentist’s input, we decided not to use fluoride-free. We’ll likely start using toothpaste with fluoride for our almost 2 year-old in the summer. She’s getting to be a good spitter like her brothers! And, side note, if you read “The Power of Habit” it’ll make you question whether any of us even need to use toothpaste at all!

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