9 Tips from Our Oral Health Coach

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This article is written in partnership with Carrie Ibbetson, Oral Health Coach.

What is an Oral Health Coach? Think of an oral health coach as a coach for your mouth just like you would have a fitness coach for your body. Our Oral Health Coach, Carrie Ibbetson, is a Licensed Dental Hygienist who helps coach people all over the world on the best practices for oral health. She helps coach best habits, introduces you to the best products, proper techniques, and really listens to your concerns, identifies problems, and helps come up with solutions. Carrie offers an amazing online course, exclusive oral health coaching community, and one-on-one coaching!

Oral Health CoachTaking care of our teeth, let alone our children’s teeth, is a big deal! We want our teeth to last our lifetime and the way we treat them now matters. An Oral Health Coach does not replace your trusted dentist, just like a fitness coach doesn’t replace a doctor, but they are so helpful! However, if you need help finding a dentist, they are happy to help you figure out how to find one who can meet your personal needs.

In my own journey of caring for four children and their mouths, I have often been confused, worried, and overwhelmed. I didn’t always know where to go for trustworthy information– I absolutely love my childrens’ pediatric dentists! However, I felt like I needed even more knowledge, hand holding, and support to feel like I was doing my best day to day. I needed a high hand person oozing knowledge who was as obsessed with preventative care as me. I needed an oral health coach!

Meeting Carrie

My first impression of Carrie Ibbetson was that she truly cared and wanted us to feel empowered to make good decisions to manage our children’s mouths. Here are my tips that I have gotten from an oral health coach. I encourage you to check out her online course and exclusive oral health coaching community. It’s invaluable, informative, and empowering! She also has one-on-one coaching for clients who really need to get to the heart of their personal problem with their or their child’s mouth.

9 Tips from our Oral Health Coach

1. Keep Oral Care Products Separate

Your child should not share a toothbrush or toothpaste with anyone else. When we share products like this, we cross contaminate. Meaning bacteria in one person‘s mouth could transfer to someone else’s mouth. We want to manage the bacteria in our own mouth and not add new bacteria or spread it to someone else. You know how they say if a pacifier falls on the floor, don’t clean it with your own mouth? Well, it’s true. When we introduce new bacteria, it is a whole new thing to manage. We use four upright toothbrush holders under our sink to keep everyone’s items separate.

2. Toothbrush Care

Store toothbrushes upright so they can air out and dry between use. It is also recommended to sanitize your toothbrush after cleaning, once a day, weekly, or monthly. We sanitize our toothbrushes monthly by leaving them and hydrogen peroxide for 30 minutes. Of course, we use a new sanitizing container and hydrogen peroxide for each person. Also, do not keep your toothbrushes on the counter, but in a cabinet. Toilet plume is a real thing!

3. Manage your Oral Biofilm with Disclosing Tablets

Disclosing tablets are tiny tablets used to disclose any plaque or tartar on your teeth. We use them to show us where biofilm and bacteria have accumulated on teeth. Some tablets even have a variety of shades that reveal newer and older bacteria in the mouth. When your teeth are temporarily stained with these, you know specifically where to scrub to remove the bad biofilm. Going forward, focus on these areas to prevent biofilm, plaque, and tartar buildup.
If plaque has turned into tartar, a dental hygienist will have to remove it. Be sure to bring this up with your dental hygienist so they can know your concerns. She/he will also be impressed you are using disclosing tablets. I had never heard of biofilm before taking Carrie Ibbetson’s course and joining her online community.

4. Cross train your teeth with different toothbrushes!

Of course we switch out our toothbrushes every three months or so. But it’s also a great idea to brush your teeth with a variety of toothbrushes to make sure you get all the nooks and crannies that a different toothbrush may have missed. We like to use a Tepé tuft brush behind the bottom front teeth. We have found that plaque can really build up and this helps manage it.

5. Get an oral irrigator now!

A water flosser is invaluable. They get an all the nooks and crannies where bacteria like to hide. There are even water flossers for children. We do not use this every day on our children, but when we do they love it! Water flossing is a learned skill. Get ready for water to spray some places until you learn to use it neatly.

6. Xylitol is your friend. Sugary, sticky, starchy foods aren’t.

Become obsessed with xylitol! Xylitol literally eats the bad bacteria in your mouth. All the sugars found in crackers, candy, sugary drinks, etc. stick to your teeth causing demineralization until they are manually removed with a toothbrush. When we demineralize our teeth, they are more prone to cavities and decay.
Xylitol is a natural element found in nature and its sugars feed on bacteria. Xylitol comes in many forms (liquid, granules, powder form) and is now in several toothpastes. You can also bake with xylitol, use xylitol syrup for pancakes, add xylitol in your coffee, and more!

Oral Health Coach7. Check pH levels before scrubbing teeth

I had never thought about pH in the mouth and if that mattered at all. However, Carrie gets to the nitty gritty of information and shares that pH matters! We should never brush teeth right after eating since our pH levels are off. It is recommended that you wait 20 to 30 minutes to make sure your pH level has evened out before brushing. pH levels in our mouths matter. If our pH level is too low, then our teeth are in a weaker state. If we brush our teeth while we have a low pH, we are harming our enamel. When we harm our enamel, our teeth are more likely to get cavities.
We also manage our pH levels by using a spray or Spry mouthwash before brushing. Or you can test pH levels with pH strips before brushing our teeth. We do not do this all the time, but these are the best practice is to keep cavities at bay. Once you learn the importance of pH, you’ll never look at bad breath (a signal of poor pH) the same!

8. Floss like a boss

I used to think flossing every couple of days for our kids was fine but have learned that flossing daily is necessary to keep inter-proximal carries at bay. Inter-proximal carries are cavities between teeth. When we floss, we need to make sure we are going a little below the gum line and making a “C” shape around one side of the tooth and then a “C” shape on the other side to get any bacteria that is stuck down there.
Our favorite floss is Burst and Gum expanding floss. For our toddler, we use the handheld flossers. However, I don’t love these since it doesn’t make a “C” shape well and the plastic is bad for the environment. Regular floss is simply better!
Interdental Flossers are great for areas where there is more spacing with teeth. They come in many different shapes and sizes too. Another great option that is an upgraded version of a toothpick are dental picks. As an extra bonus, they massage your gums too!
One thing I love about Carrie is how she discusses in depth the importance of not just teeth, but gums which are what hold our teeth in place. Gums are so important and some have gum disease and aren’t aware of it! According to the CDC, “47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease.” 

Oral Health Coach

9. Brush often and well!

We use a two minute timer on either the oral B app on my phone or with a two minute hourglass that we got from the dentist (but would also make cute party favors). The kids know we brush each quadrant in our mouths for the full two minutes. Also, when we brush our teeth properly, we do what we’re supposed to do to keep cavities at bay, teach our children responsibility and ownership of their oral hygiene. Oral hygiene matters for our entire lives, so we better start young!
Have you considered hiring an oral health coach to take your oral hygiene to the next level? Is there anything about this article that surprised or interested you? If you are interested in taking your or your child’s oral health to the next level, join Carrie’s Club. Be sure to follow her on social media too!
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Courtney was born and raised in Louisiana where she met her husband (married in 2005). Since then they have moved several times, but finally feel very settled in NW DC after moving back a little over two years ago. She has four energetic kids: Cormac (2010), Evangeline (2013), and Solomon (2016), and Antoinette (2019). She thinks motherhood is absolutely wonderful, but she is constantly challenged and stretched in ways she couldn't have imagined. She spends her days talking Star Wars, legos, playing dress-up, and chasing her toddler. We all know motherhood is challenging so she wanted to band together with other mothers to start this site to inspire, learn, and grow together. She loves morning coffee, chocolate, chatting with people since she's an extrovert, a clean house (which is rare these days). She dislikes when her kids don't listen the first time, she abhors littering, and doesn't enjoy shopping. 

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