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We all know how important looking after your teeth is

You only get one shot once your adult teeth come through and so I’m determined to make sure Arlo has great habits when it comes to oral hygiene. Part of this is setting a good example myself. I’ve been brushing my teeth with Arlo ever since he was small enough to hold a brush. My top tip for parents is to introduce a baby safe toothbrush as a teething aid right at the beginning.

This week we took Arlo for his biannual check up at the dentist. I’ve been taking him since he was six months old, when his first baby tooth appeared. Not that they do much, it’s mainly about getting him used to the environment. Of course he takes it all in his stride. Strolling in as happy as larry – sitting back to do some “relaxing” in the chair and then waiting with his mouth open wide before the dentist has even prepared her mirror.

Arlo has twenty teeth now

– as per the dentists swift count and he was super impressed to receive a sticker and then hop out of the chair with the dentist promising to tell the tooth fairy that his teeth will be worth lots of coins. Mum on the other hand is in the bad books. I am a tooth grinder and this has become worse for me over the last twelve months – either that or I’m just more aware of it. I’ve had to have imprints taken to get a mouth guard to wear at night which I’ll pick up next week.

It’s made me think more about my oral hygiene and how important it is to make some changes. First things first adapting my diet. It might sound ridiculous but my consumption of fizzy pop has been way over the top ever since it was one of my pregnancy cravings. Arlo’s almost four now and I can’t use it as an excuse any longer – I ended up having a zoom session with a hypnotherapist recently to try to help me kick the habit.

The teeth grinding is down to stress I think – before lockdown I was also a pen lid chewer. When I am in the middle of a project I find chewing helps me to concentrate and focus. I’ve started to look at alternatives which will help me out. Sugar free gum is something I can turn to. For most health & wellbeing writers (and dental experts), the main benefit is in oral health – chewing Sugar free gum increases saliva flow, remineralises teeth and neutralises plaque acids, etc. All big pluses.

We have a good routine here when it comes to brushing our teeth in the morning and evening, but the challenge comes for me when I’m alone during the day, just after eating. This is when your teeth are more at risk from an acid attack, as the acid is produced by bacteria in our foods and drink.

Did you know that Chewing sugar free gum for up to twenty minutes increases the flow of saliva, speeding up the time that it takes for saliva to cancel out the acid?

During the time after lunch is when I find myself grinding my teeth absent mindedly, and this is where I find other benefits to chewing sugar free gum really come in to play – there’s an obvious stress busting element to chewing, and I’ve also managed to cut down gnawing on pen lids as chewing gum helps me to maintain focus just as well.

Sugar free gum is made from Xylitol, which helps to prevent plaque bacteria sticking to the teeth. Studies have shown that xylitol can help reduce tooth decay and even help reverse the decay itself by helping to replace the minerals in tooth enamel and I find this incredibly reassuring.

My only tooth concern right now is trying to convince Arlo not to pull his teeth out for the tooth fairy prematurely. He’s absolutely determined to meet her and get a coin, he asked me to tie a yo-yo around his tooth and the door handle recently so this crazy mum ended up rummaging around the arts and crafts cupboard close to midnight to conjure up a note from the tooth fairy…. leaving a trail of glitter and some coins behind in the hope that this convinces Arlo to hold on to his baby teeth a little while longer.

Chewing is now a recommended part of an effective dental care regime, alongside brushing and flossing, endorsed by all the major dental federations around the world. 

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