I was approached by the wonderful people of Johnson & Johnson to take part in their Listerine Smart Rinse Sweet Smart Oral Care Challenge. It’s like they knew I was the perfect candidate for this. I’m very vain when it comes to my teeth and my children’s teeth. I brush and rinse with Listerine every day. I know, I left out flossing, I’m awful about flossing. The kiddos are big with brushing their teeth as well. Yes, we do have our days that we don’t want to do it, but in the end we know it has to be done.

Brushing doesn’t do it alone, though. We have to brush, floss and rinse with a post-brushing mouthrinse like Listerine (for adults), or Listerine Smart Rinse (for the kiddos). It’s an essential combination that will keep your child’s teeth and mouth healthy and prevent childhood cavities.

A fluoride-based rinse like Listerine Smart Rinse provides 12-hour cavity protection and strengthens teeth 99% better than brushing alone. It acts like a magnet to grab particles left from brushing, and when your child spits out the mouthrinse, you can see the particles right there in the sink – proof that brushing alone is not enough. I know that sounds totally gross, but when you think like a kid it’s totally awesome. Am I right?

My family is participating in the Sweet Smart Challenge, which happens to come at the most cavity prone time of year, Halloween. To help us with this challenge we received a box full of Listerine and Reach goodies:

We also received a chart for the kiddos to check off when they brush their teeth.

Like I mentioned before, this challenge falls around Halloween, which is when we expose our pearly whites to an obscene amount of sugar. But what is the worst and the best you ask? Pediatric dentist, Dr. Kaneta Lott told us during an online discussion, “Any candy or substance that gets stuck to your teeth is the worst – it’s hard to rinse them away from the teeth and they can cause decay. Gummy bears, raisins, gooey candy like taffy and even potato chips stick to teeth. Dark chocolate candies have tannins in them that protect the teeth. Darker chocolate candies would be better. We still recommend brushing, flossing and rinsing with a fluoride rinse after eating any candy.” I knew I liked dark chocolate for a reason.

Halloween is always a challenge, the kiddos get so much candy and I never want them to eat all of it. Not just because of the cavities, but because it’s…well…candy. Some dentists will buy back your candy, I know ours does. It’s great to let your kiddos pick out a few pieces they really want and then let them take the rest of it to their dentist. This is a great teaching lesson for the kids too, which can help you explain cavities and the importance of protecting against them.

For my family with this challenge, I really want to lead by example. The kiddos watch me brush my teeth and rinse every morning. Now, they are too young for rinsing (recommended age is 6), but I figure if they see me do it now, they will want to do it then. What we really need to work on is the flossing. Oh flossing….

Throughout the challenge I will post updates on Facebook and Twitter and would love if you join in the challenge with me! We started the challenge last night with our brand new toothbrushes (who knew that could be so exciting?):

If you have an extra minute, check out America’s ToothFairy, which is a great non-profit organization that is committed to eliminating pediatric oral disease and promoting overall health and well-being for underserved children nationwide.

You can also find songs perfect for encouraging your kids to brush for the recommended two minutes at barbie.com/listerinekids.

So who’s with me? What tips do you have for getting your whole family in a healthy oral care routine?

Disclosure: I received products from Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc. and The Motherhood as part of my participation in the Listerine Smart Rinse Sweet Smart Challenge. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own (especially the part about flossing).