As a practicing pediatric dentist, Dr. Jill Lasky has a wealth of everyday experiences and knowledge about oral care—and she's happy to share!
Check out some the questions we asked her and see her insights about natural oral care right here.
These days, fluoride toothpaste isn’t the only option—with Burt’s Bees or other brands. While brushing with fluoride toothpaste has been proven to help prevent cavities, both toothpastes are good alternatives. Still, some parents are concerned about fluoride ingestion with their younger children.
Children younger than four years old usually swallow some toothpaste when they brush. Fluoride in this swallowed toothpaste can be incorporated into kids’ developing teeth and bones, which can be beneficial. However, toxicity from fluoride can arise when the amount of systemic fluoride is too high. This can occur when the swallowed toothpaste is not the only source of fluoride a child ingests in a day. This is tough to monitor as fluoride occurs naturally in many foods and throughout the U.S. in many public water sources.
I recommend that a child's risk for cavities as well as his or her additional systemic fluoride exposure be assessed by a dentist before fluoride toothpaste is readily used on a child who cannot, or is not ready to, spit out the toothpaste as a part of regular daily brushing routine.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends a topical fluoride exposure for all erupted teeth, regardless of a child's age or ability to spit. However, I think a parent and their dentist should review this recommendation and balance the risks of fluoride toxicity with the benefits fluoride toothpaste can offer to these first teeth.
Good oral care isn’t as tough or time consuming as it might seem. Really! Just like with your overall well-being, keeping your mouth healthy is simply a matter of making choices—and making them consistently is key. While I can’t promise a cavity-free, problem-free smile with the following tips, I can confidently tell you that if you make these 5 choices regularly, you’ll be on your way to a healthier mouth, naturally.
Tip 1: Chew Xylitol Gum
The mechanical action of chewing gum, itself, stimulates saliva flow, which helps to prevent cavities by reducing plaque acids and strengthening teeth. But did you know that when you choose a gum that contains xylitol, you get extra benefits? This natural ingredient helps reduce bacteria in your mouth and may reduce the risk of cavities. So it’s a healthier way than sugar to provide a sweet flavor. (That’s why Burt’s Bees uses xylitol in their natural toothpaste!) Chewing gums that contain xylitol are becoming more readily available—so check out the labels and start chewing!
Tip 2: Don’t Chew the Sticky Stuff
It’s a no-brainer that chewy, sugary candy can be a culprit in causing cavities. But some of the sweet foods generally considered healthier choices can be just as detrimental. That’s because the longer a substance sticks to your teeth, the more potential it has to cause tooth decay. Dried fruits, for example, may seem like a better option. However, they are high in sugar and since they are chewy and sticky, they stay on your teeth longer than most of their fresh fruit counterparts. The sugar residue that is left on your teeth provides more potential to attract bacteria and cause tooth decay. So if you’re thinking about a handful of raisins, you might want to try a handful of grapes instead.
Tip 3: Drink More Water
Everyone knows by now that drinking at least eight glasses of water a day is the standard recommendation for helping keep your body hydrated. Well, it’s good for your mouth, too! That’s because choosing water over sugary sodas or even full-strength fruit juices provides a “clean rinse” for washing away bacteria in your mouth between brushings. With my patients, I always recommend cutting children’s juice with water to dilute it and reduce the amount of sugar coming in contact with their teeth. But in general, reaching for a glass of water when you’re thirsty is the best choice you can make for your mouth.
Tip 4: Be Proactive
I can’t stress enough the connection between your oral health and your overall well-being. Your mouth is the gateway to your body and so much of what happens there either affects your physical health or is a direct reflection of it. So talk to your dentist about any changes in your gums and teeth—it could help identify important health issues.
Tip 5: Brush with Burt's Bees® Natural Toothpaste
Brushing thoroughly twice a day is just one of the basics of good oral health. That recommendation shouldn't be a surprise. But when you choose a natural option like Burt's Bees® Natural Toothpaste, you're not only getting the benefit of regular brushings, you're also getting the benefit of natural ingredients, like cranberry extract. With both cavity-fighting fluoride and fluoride-free options for both adults and kids that are free of SLS, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and sweeteners, it's a great choice for taking care of every mouth in your family.
As in many other industries, the dental profession has recently seen a trend towards greener, more natural, and environmentally-friendlier solutions. It’s been largely a consumer-driven trend and as a dentist, I’m pleased to see the progress we’re beginning to make!
In recent years, so many of us have become more conscious about the food we eat — is it healthy? natural? organic? — and the products we use — are they recyclable? made from recycled materials or sustainable ingredients? made using responsible manufacturing processes? I believe it’s a part of the bigger movement towards environmental responsibility and well-being. Seeing this trend move into oral care products is a natural extension. As a dentist I’m beginning to understand what this means to my patients and my practice.
In my practice, we’re looking at the products we use, consciously choosing ones that have less packaging and a higher percentage of recyclable packaging. As importantly, we’re looking at the ingredients within the products themselves, with an eye toward choosing solutions for our patients that include more natural ingredients and fewer synthetics, but without compromising their effectiveness.
I am pleased to see more products now available for our patients who want effective, natural oral care products. And, like many of my colleagues, I’m adopting these products more often into both my personal and professional life. It is then very natural for me to feel good about both using the assortment of Burt’s Bees® Natural Toothpastes at home and recommending them to my patients.
Based on my personal commitment to making better choices for the planet, I’m excited to see this trend evolving, with more natural options available to dental professionals. If you ask me, the future of dentistry looks green!
We all know starting healthy habits can be hard! So when starting kids off with good oral care habits, remember it might not happen overnight. At the beginning, though, just getting kids into a routine for good preventative care is what it’s all about—and, like with so many things in life, starting with little steps is okay!
When it comes to daily brushing, the routine is more important than setting a rigid process or time limit. Don’t sweat it if some nights, one swipe with the toothbrush is all you can get them to do. The important thing is that they are doing it consistently. It’s like recycling—just start getting into the habit of making the choice to recycle a water bottle every time and you’re doing a good thing. You can take on bigger commitments over time.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years—at my practice and with my own kids:
It’s a learning process! Ask any parent—teaching younger kids to refrain from swallowing toothpaste is tough. That’s one reason I’m a huge fan of Burt’s Bees® Natural Toothpaste for Kids. The Berry Bee Fluoride-Free version is okay to swallow in small amounts as kids are learning to brush. What's more, even without fluoride, this natural toothpaste contains cranberry extract, which emerging evidence suggests may help to inhibit certain plaque-causing bacteria from adhering to teeth, as well as calcium and phosphorous to promote strong, healthy teeth. And kids love the taste!
So, while tooth brushing may sometimes be a challenge with young ones, it’s an important step for kids on a path to a lifetime habit of caring for their oral health.
Every day, there are things that make us smile. Sometimes they may be little harder to find, but they’re there. For me, I take the time to recognize and appreciate the important things in my everyday life, including my family and my patients. Plus, isn’t it amazing how a smile is so contagious? There is an inherent power within a natural smile that spreads easily—smile at someone, and most likely they’ll smile back!
Here are just a few of the things that made me smile lately.
My oldest son recently lost his first tooth. He cried “happy tears” because he was last in his class and so thrilled to finally catch up with the other kids. But then he cried real tears because, he said, it was his favorite tooth and he’s going to miss it.
Lately our family activities have taken a green spin, which I love. The four of us have always enjoyed spending treasured moments outdoors: sailing, skiing and riding bikes. But these days we’re going out to do more things that make a difference, like participating in beach clean-ups. It’s wonderful to see my kids learning about helping others and global sustainability through their everyday experiences.
The Support of Friends
I am humbled beyond belief to be considered the glue that holds my circle of friends together. To know that these wonderful people I treasure absolutely trust me and think of me as someone who’s loyal and always there for them just makes me completely warm inside.
Recharging for my well-being and the world around me
I’m so excited to be planning a working family vacation! Instead of doing a typical family vacation again, we’re going to recharge and give back at the same time by taking a volunteer vacation. We’ll visit a new city and take part in a Habitat for Humanity project, helping provide for another family in need. I can’t think of a more rewarding way to spend a week with my family.