Great Ideas! Laila Ali’s Kid-Friendly Oral Hygiene Tips

04/29/2013 at 03:00 PM ET

As a busy mom-of-two, Laila Ali knows all too well how important it is to set aside time to make sure your children are taking care of their teeth — which makes her the perfect spokesperson for the Ad Council’s new children’s oral health campaign.

Currently hosting Everyday Healthairing nationwide on ABC, Ali is also a world-class athlete, fitness & wellness expert, cooking enthusiast and founder of the Laila Ali Lifestyle Brand.

As a champion boxer, I’ve faced some tough opponents: Christy Martin, Mónica Núñez, Jackie Frazier-Lyde. But even I didn’t realize that one of the toughest jobs in my life would also be one of the most rewarding — being a mother to my two children, C.J., 4½, and Sydney, 2.

But one of my biggest parenting challenges is getting my kids to brush their teeth. They squirm. They lose focus. Once, the little one swallowed her toothpaste! It’s no wonder that fewer than half of American parents currently report that their kids brush their teeth twice a day.

Laila Ali Ad Council
Courtesy Laila Ali

The tooth truth is: brushing is more important than you may think. Right now, dental decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in America. And for more than 16 million kids, the disease goes untreated. Minorities and children from low-income families are disproportionately affected, with double the number of reported cases.

Good health has always been a priority in my life and I want it to be a priority for my kids, too. That’s why I developed this list of quick “Tooth To-Dos” to help busy parents (and their little ones!) maintain good brushing habits:

1. Make sure your kids brush with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes, twice a day. Note: Use a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste for kids ages 2 to 6, and use slightly more when they’re older. Teach them to spit out the toothpaste when they’re done so they don’t swallow it. For kids younger than age 2, use a soft toothbrush and a little water; no toothpaste is necessary.

2. Teach your kids to floss between their teeth once a day to remove plaque and food where a brush can’t reach. Note: Kids’ teeth can be flossed as soon as two of their teeth touch each other.

3. Start taking your child to the dentist regularly no later than age 1.

Of course, I’m not the only one working to help kids start good brushing practices early.

Last year, a group of more than 35 leading oral health organizations called The Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives came together with the Ad Council to launch a national public service advertising campaign along with a fun, engaging website, 2min2x.org, which features free 2 minute video clips of characters including Elmo, Bugs Bunny and more that kids can watch while brushing.

I know that in today’s supercharged world, it may seem difficult to find two minutes to do anything. But believe me when I say that the smiles on your kids’ faces will be worth it.

– Laila Ali

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Showing 9 comments

nyscof on

Laila is being used to promote fluoride use. What they haven’t told her is that infant formula should not be mixed with fluoridated water, according to government agencies, health and dental associations and even Colgate gives that warning http://www.FormulaFluoride.Webs.com

Children should not use fluoridated toothpaste if they can’t spit it all out. Using candy or bubble gum flavored toothpaste will encourage children to eat fluoride. There’s a poisoning warning on all fluoridated toothpaste. Take heed

Really on

My dentist informed me not to use fluride toothpaste until my daughter can/will spit it out. She’s almost 3 and still has not mastered that skill and at times still sucks her toothbrush if I’m not watching. I’ve also read that the the new standard is to have an evaluation done to find out if your child even needs fluoride based on risk of cavaties. We do floss her teeth every night with the kids floss picks. Celebrities should be very careful wit the information they put out.

Ariel on

Fluoride isn’t good for kids OR adults– just google fluoride risks. You can just use baking soda (like Julia Roberts) or natural toothpastes (like coconut oil based toothpaste). These aren’t toxic (like Fluoride) and can be ingested, so you can brush your kids’ teeth without worry!

blessedwithboys on

Flouride is poison. We avoid it at all costs.

SAR on

What beautiful children.

Bekkah on

Um, I’ve made it 30 years with fluoride in my toothpaste. I’m fine. The important thing here is to get your kids to brush their teeth no matter what you choose to brush with. 2x a day, everyday for at least 2 minutes.

Beth on

As a dental hygienist, fluoride is actually safe and very helpful for your teeth. Fluoride helps prevent further tooth decay by interfering with bacterial growth and helps to restore the minerals in your teeth. Of course, like everything in life, fluoride is best used in moderation. I’m glad Laila is expressing the importance of oral hygiene! Remember, your mouth is the window to your body, so take care of it! :)

ava on

Once the little one swallowed her toothpaste?! I swallowed my toothpaste every single time I brushed my teeth for my entire childhood, and I turned out fine.

Billy Budd on

Correct tooth brushing with the correct amount for age is important. Good solid research shows that toothpaste is the most common cause of enamel fluorosis and that by using small amounts for young children excess fluorosis is avoided.

That said, NYSCOF, an anti-fluoridationist, vastly overstates the situation.

The current recommendation from the American Dental Association is here: http://www.ada.org/4052.aspx#reconstitute

There they recommend breast feeding if possible. In response to the question, is it okay to use fluoridated water to reconstitute infant formula? the ADA states:

“Yes, it is safe to use fluoridated water to mix infant formula. If your baby is primarily fed infant formula, using fluoridated water might increase the chance for mild enamel fluorosis, but enamel fluorosis does not affect the health of your child or the health of your child’s teeth. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to talk to their dentists about what’s best for their child.”

Parents wishing to read an analysis by a select panel of dental, public health and pediatric experts which reviewed all the science on the topic can do so here:

http://jada.ada.org/content/142/1/79.full.pdf+html

Ms. Ali might have added to her advice: if your city is not fluoridated campaign for it to become so. Community water fluoridation is the least expensive, easiest and most cost effective approach to better oral health.

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