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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Your child's teeth are their life!

In Japan there is a saying in show business, "Ha ga inochi"  which translates to "Teeth are life".  It means that for a celebrity, having good looking, straight, white teeth is critical to their success.  While our kids may not literally have to earn a living with their teeth in the future, there is a chance that how they look will affect their chances in life.
"I had a real hard time getting over the personal hygiene issue.  I know that teeth are not a priority, but his teeth and breath were a distraction."
The above comments came as feedback on why a candidate was declined after a job interview.  The bad breath issue is an obvious problem however combined with the teeth it killed this candidate's chances.  The teeth were a bit crooked but the employer was specifically referring to the brown stains on the front two teeth.  The interviewer just could not imagine putting this candidate in front of one of their clients.

In the above example, the candidate was in his mid 40s.  He was certainly at an age when he is responsible for his own appearance.  I can't help but think though, that his parents missed a chance to help when he was a child.

The most basic assistance we can provide early on is helping our kids to build a habit of brushing their  teeth after every meal.  Brushing helps to prevent cavities and decay (think black teeth) and also works against the bacteria that cause bad breath.  Even if it is not right after a meal, sending your son up to brush because you notice his bad breath will help him to become more aware of its affect on others and also learn that brushing is the way to fight it.  It also helps for kids to realize that brushing teeth is not something that only occurs right before bed.  There are great little flossing tools now for kids that come with Buzz Lightyear and the Disney princesses on them.  Our kids are usually happy to use them (see side bar).

My 3 year old daughter just came back from her annual checkup and my wife and I received a scolding about not brushing her teeth well enough.  She apparently has two small cavities which need attention...  We were shocked because she brushes every night.  But, as the dentist informed us, a 3 year old does not have the fine motor control to brush properly by herself and Mom or Dad needs to have a hand on the brush.

I realize that this may sound like basic parenting advice but it is important and can really make a difference for our kids.  The mouth is one of the first things people look at after the eyes when introduced.  It makes an impression when your son or daughter can flash a straight, white line of clean teeth when they smile.

Brushing, flossing and an annual trip to the dentist should be enough to help keep bad breath and decay away but then there are crooked teeth.  Braces are worth the money.  Yes I know that having crooked teeth has nothing to do with your child's ability to get the job done.  It is also not directly connected with hygiene but since we are talking about teeth it is a good time to bring this up. Employer's like straight teeth.  Some studies have indicated that up to 50% of employers would turn down a candidate for crooked teeth.  If an employer thinks our kids are attractive, they feel more comfortable asking our sons and daughters to represent the company. We cannot "teach" our kids to straighten their teeth but we do have the chance to help them now when they are under our roof.  If your child's teeth are crowded and crooked (like mine were as a kid) and you can afford it, braces are a simple way of boosting their chances in that first job interview.

So teach your kids to brush and floss everyday and remind them to smile!

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