As a parent, your instincts lead you to put the needs of your children first. It’s a perfectly natural response, of course, but what happens when you focus all of your energies on caring for others? You owe it to yourself and your children to keep every member of your family healthy and strong—and that includes your teeth. Remember, caring for your oral health doesn’t mean tethering yourself to the sink, toothbrush in hand. Busy moms and dads can make responsible choices throughout the day to improve the health of their teeth and gums. Dr. Ryan Hussong, a family dentist in Polk City, IA, shares oral health tips for parents on the go.
Challenge: Parent as Taxi Driver
What happened to the days when “extracurricular activities” meant an occasional soccer practice or piano lesson? It’s not unusual for a parent to spend hours in the family car each day, shuttling children to and from sports competitions, study sessions, slumber parties, and beyond. The problem? When you spend so much time in your vehicle and have limited time to yourself, the most accessible food options aren’t exactly the healthiest. Dr. Hussong warns that sugary, starchy foods are very damaging to your teeth, especially if you do not brush or rinse your mouth afterwards. Bacteria that live in your mouth thrive on these substances, which they convert to acids and plaque, increasing your risk for tooth decay.
Solution: A Little Preparation Goes a Long Way
Getting anything done during the day is a challenge, regardless of whether your work from home or in an office. Our parent-patients are a savvy bunch and creative beyond belief. We’d like to share a few of their best tips—and trust us, they’ve got incredible smiles to back up their claims—include:
- “My husband and I swear by those single-use toothbrushes and floss picks. The brushes have a little dollop of toothpaste on them. Wet the brush to release the minty paste, and give your teeth a quick scrub. They fit perfectly in a glove box or purse.”
- “Water, water, water! Energy drinks are too sugary, and I swear I can feel them eating away at my tooth enamel. I like bottled water because I can use it to rinse my mouth out after eating. It doesn’t stain my teeth like coffee.”
- “I like to pack healthy snacks that will fill me up, but nothing that will melt if it’s in the car for too long. I might start with an apple or orange, then later I’ll snack on a handful of almonds. Definitely eat the fresh fruit first, though. It doesn’t travel well.”
- “Before I go to bed, I spend about half an hour getting all of my snacks and water bottles together so I can just grab them and go. For example, I might portion out a bag of unsalted nuts or slice an apple so it will be easier to eat when I’m driving.”
It’s surprising to discover so many different ways to protect your smile, even if you’re miles away from your toothbrush. Even the busiest parent should carve out time for two yearly dental checkups and professional cleanings.
Questions about your family’s dental health? To learn more about family-friendly dentistry, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ryan Hussong, contact our Polk City, IA dentist office at (515) 984-6001. We proudly serve families living in Ankeny, Alleman, Grimes, Des Moines, and the neighboring communities.