You might remember her from the ‘90s hit TV show Beverly Hills, 90210, but Jennie Garth is emerging as a spokeswoman for oral hygiene, especially as it relates to children.
The actress—currently starring in her own reality TV show—has teamed up with Crest and Oral-B to get families motivated to start and keep up good oral habits. Garth began her efforts when she realized the strong link between oral hygiene and overall health and self-esteem. She explained to Fox News: “So many kids are not taught about the importance of proper brushing, and they end up missing school, they have bad self-esteem, so many diseases, [which] are caused by bad oral health.”
The facts are indeed alarming. The number one chronic disease in children is dental decay, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 40% of children have tooth decay by the time they enter kindergarten. Studies show the trend cutting across all income levels. This decay can affect a child’s growth and development, cause malocclusion (bad bite), and lead to incredible pain and/or swelling.
The American Dental Association recommends parents taking their children to the dentist as soon as the first tooth shows up or when the child turns one year old.
The idea of teaching a (really) young child how to care for their teeth may seem daunting to most parents, but Garth offers some friendly and fun tips on how to engage a little one in good hygiene:
- First, you have to model brushing and flossing yourself. “Like anything, I think our kids mirror what we do,” the actress said. She adds that if kids see parents taking care of their teeth, they will want to do the same for theirs.
- Second, make it fun! When her daughters were little, Garth would play a game with them to get them to start brushing their teeth. She would say, “Oh, my gosh, there’s a froggy in your teeth, I’ve got to get him out.” Then, when it was time for the children to spit out the toothpaste, she would toss a little toy frog in the sink, so they would know the job was done. Garth claims the game was so exciting that the kids would let her brush their teeth as long as she wanted to.
Garth, like all parents, wants kids to be healthy and feel confident. “Because when you show up somewhere, that’s the first thing that people see is your teeth – and your smile and how confident you are.”