The Oral Care Challenge

February is National Children's Dental Health Month.

It's a great time to remind ourselves to make sure that our children are learning healthy habits for their teeth and gums while they are young to prevent cavities and keep their teeth healthy for the rest of their lives.

Did you know that 50 percent of children will have a cavity or filling between the ages of five and nine years of age?

That's a terrible statistic. Kids are more interested in playing knights and princesses than brushing their teeth. Also they don't yet realize the importance of good oral hygiene and they often don't know how to properly care for their teeth.

With two little children, it is important for my husband and I to educate our children on how to care for their teeth and one of the best ways to do this is to show them. We need to model good dental care so that our children learn from us how to keep their teeth healthy and strong.

Sounds good. Do we brush our teeth twice a day? Yes.

But do we floss every day? No.

Do we use a mouth rinse every day? No.

My husband and I have some areas in our dental hygiene routine that we need to improve.

So I'm really looking forward to participating in the Listerine and Reach Healthy Habits for a Lifetime Oral Care Challenge.

To complete the challenge, my family and I just need to brush, floss and rinse twice a day for three weeks.

Can we do it? I think so, especially with the great arsenal of weapons to fight off cavities and gingivitis.

• The REACH® TOTAL CARE Multi-action toothbrush has multi-directional bristles that thoroughly clean teeth from all directions, removing up to 90 percent of plaque.
• REACH® TOTAL CARE Floss is designed for superior plaque removal and teeth whitening.
• Adding a 30-second rinse with LISTERINE® Antiseptic to your morning and nighttime routines, along with your usual brushing, has been proven in a clinical study to help reduce up to 70 percent more plaque and 36 percent more gingivitis than brushing and flossing alone.

What I especially love about this challenge is that is includes our children. I set out the kid-friendly products to show my little ones and they started jumping up and down, begging to go brush their teeth.

Who knew that a picture of Barbie on the bottle of pink mouth rinse would make brushing so much fun...but it does!

I participated in a live chat with Listerine dental experts, Dr. John Dodes, DDS (general dentist) and Dr. Kaneta Lott, DDS (pediatric dentist). I learned some interesting ideas to help get children excited about taking care of their teeth.

• It's important to make oral care fun (e.g., make it a game; brush, floss and rinse to music; etc).
• Reward their behavior (e.g., give gold stars for good oral care).
• Show, don’t tell – make oral care a family affair.
• Involve them in their own oral care routine by providing products like LISTERINE® Smart Rinse, which can make the daily routine more fun, provides 12-hour cavity protection for kids and strengthens teeth 99 percent better than brushing alone.

Listerine even provided me with a calendar to help reward my children's progress. I can't tell you how excited they are to get started!

I'll check back later to let you know how we did but until then you can follow along on the challenge at the Twitter hashtag #healthyhabits. You can also check out Walmart to take a look at some of the great Listerine and Reach products for your own family.

Note: I was provided with Listerine and Reach products to use in this challenge.

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