I have never been a model dental patient. Growing up my mother was impeccably organized and always got us to our regular physician and dentist check-ups, but when I moved out it just wasn’t something I was good at keeping up with. On top of that I didn’t have the most extensive regimen at home either. I brushed every morning and sometimes before I went to bed. That was it. In my mid twenties I lost a tooth to lack of awareness and urgency. It wasn’t until I started educating myself, and making some life changes about what I believed in and what practices I found necessary to my health, that I identified the real issue. It is not the dentist’s job to keep my teeth in my mouth and keep them healthy. Just like it’s not the teacher’s job to make sure my child is respectful, and it’s not my chiropractor’s job to keep me from getting injured. It is my job, and it’s also my job to teach my children this same lesson. The way we take care of and support our body is the most influencing practice in relation to our health.
When my husband and I moved in together and started combining our parenting to-do lists this was one of the biggest areas of contention. He was floored… no…. mortified that I had not seen a dentist since my daughter was born (she is now 7). When I explained my theory about who’s job it is to take care of my teeth he was less than accepting. He promptly made me an appointment and threatened to take me if I even thought about not going. He even spoke with the hygienist about my abstinence from routine appointments… I think to warn her about how bad my teeth might be. So reluctantly I went. She greeted me warmly but I could see the motherly disappointment on her face. She informed me that depending on how the initial analysis went, we may or may not have time to do everything that needed to be done. When she finished her questioning she put on her gloves, laid me back and asked me to open my mouth. She poked around, scraping and counting and measuring without saying a word for quite some time. Then she asked “What are you using to brush with?” “How long has it been since your last appointment again?” … Her voice sounded different and she looked confused. “I can’t find any plaque build up.” I can not preach enough that your oral health is completely in your hands. Sure dentists can assist like any other professional can, and if you are the type of person who just needs to know exactly how well (or not so well) your regimen is working then by all means keep your standing 6 month check up schedule!
My at home care:
1. Brush brush BRUSH! Using your toothbrush and a fluoride-free toothpaste (you can find some good options in my store) before going to bed is the most important time to keep the sugar bugs from eating at your teeth while you sleep! Brush again in the morning… and for me and my kiddos that are too young to be at school we brush again after lunch, before nap time. When brushing make sure to apply pressure but not so much that you cause irritation to the gums (this can cause your gums to recede)… move in a circular motion making sure to reach all surfaces of all your teeth. For my kids I let them take a turn while I brush my own teeth and then I take a turn brushing theirs. Even my 13 year old gets tortured with Mom taking a turn brushing his teeth once in a while.
2. Floss like a Boss! I don’t care what your toothbrush manufacturer claims… nothing can take the place of flossing! My family prefers the flossing picks, they are easier for the kids to use. Flossing removes plaque from areas that your brush can not reach. You can find these in my store as well.
3. Magical Coconut Oil. Ok fine it’s not really “magical” but it sure does have countless uses! Cold pressed unfractionated coconut oil is my personal preference and depending on whose jar I’m filling I add several drops of peppermint and frankincense essential oils. This helps with the “flavor” that most anti-pullers complain of, as well as adding to the antibacterial and restorative properties of the coconut oil. Adults can pull as often as everyday for 5-20 minutes. I aim for 3 times a week. For my kids I use less drops of essential oil in the jar and they pull once or twice a week. It is important that the oil does not get swallowed so don’t push them to swish for longer than they physically can. Start with 5 minutes and add time as they are able. Spit the oil into the trash, rinse with warm water and brush like normal.
One thing I would encourage you to consider if you are sticking with your regular dental visits, skip the fluoride treatment. Studies have shown that it can cause more harm than good and is definitely not necessary if you have a solid home routine and a healthy diet! Read more on this in my article Fluoride?.. No Thank You!