In Part 1 of this post, I discussed my issues with fluoride supplements as a way to combat tooth decay and how we have chosen to forsake them. Before I go any further, I’d like to stress that our decision is based purely on our own feelings and perceptions, and I don’t advocate one choice or another.

For anyone reading this, it’s important to discuss your options with your dentist or pediatrician and make an informed decision that best suits your family.

Having said that, I’d like to share some ways to promote good dental health in your kids. While some of them may be painfully obvious, sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of their importance in the frenzied rush of daily life.

Brush and floss your kids’ teeth yourself - Children need to eventually brush their own teeth, but it takes time for them to learn how to do it properly. Every kid I know who has cavities brushes their own teeth, which means either they are not doing it properly or not doing it at all.

So might I suggest that, even though it’s a pain, once a day you brush their teeth with your own two hands. Remember, it’s important to imbed good brushing habits in their head, and first step is setting precedents.

Make brushing fun - There are all sorts of ways to make brushing fun, from cool toothpastes to fun and interesting toothbrushes. Vary it up and make it exciting, or do like Katherine Turner and get fun timer-toothbrushes.

Have them brush after school - You have no idea what your kids are eating once they leave the house. And there is no way you’re going to get them to brush their teeth at school. The ridicule that it would invite from their friends is worse than any tooth decay.

When they get home, however, is another story. Make it a habit for them to brush their teeth after school, away from the scrutiny of their peers. It takes only a minute or two, will carry them until the evening brushing.

Sell a message that they will embrace - Let’s face it, it’s human nature to take our health for granted, and the mistakes we make when we’re younger all come back to haunt us later. So it’s up to mom and dad to promote healthy messages that kids will embrace.

Along with good health, make your kids understand that neglecting their teeth will affect their beautiful smile. While I’m not advocating the promotion of vanity, it is a message that kids, especially teenagers, can understand.

Carry a toothbrush and toothpaste with you - Leave an extra brush in your glove compartment or your purse, and when the need arises, brush their teeth. Don’t be self-conscious when it comes to your kids health. I’ve brushed our kids in parking lots. They are especially handy when you go out to dinner and can clean their teeth before they fall asleep on the drive home.

Have them drink water - Cavities are formed by acids that are by-products of the bacterial metabolism of sugar. Drinking water, while in no ways a solution, can help rinse the teeth and at least dilute some of the effects of the acids.

Chew sugarless gum - Saliva is a wonderful thing. Besides helping us chew our food, it has digestive and antiseptic qualities which in turn help to discourage tooth decaying bacteria. Chewing sugarless gum opens the salivary floodgates. I have some issues with artificial sweeteners, but maybe in small doses the positives outweigh the negatives.

Avoid hard candy - In an ideal world, we would remove sugary treats from our diets, but just try and sell that one to your kids. Since sugar is a fact of life, maybe it’s better to choose ones that do less damage. Hard candy like lollipops stick to teeth, offering bacteria a virtual smorgasbord of acid causing sugar, and should be avoided.

If you can’t avoid that sucker (they’re everywhere) that your bank teller offers your kids, then have them chew some gum or rinse their mouth afterwards. Or better yet, brush their teeth with that handy toothbrush you have stashed in your glove compartment.

In the end, it isn’t easy, and the odds are stacked against you. We live in a world where temptations that undermine good dental hygiene are ubiquitous. But parents need to be vigilant, because not only will dental caries affect the health and well being of your kids, but they’ll have a significant impact on your wallets, as well; dentists are expensive, and dental insurance is the pits.

Besides, being the guilt-ridden creatures that we are, nothing makes mom and dad feel worse than when we think we’ve neglected our parental duties, and there is a long list of issues that keep us up at night.

Why would you want to add to that?