A dentist’s mother is a mother of a new campaign to fight the tooth decay epidemic

Sarah Richardson-Martin is a full-time mother of two grown kids and a dentist in Memphis, TN. As a parent, Richardson-Martin knows you need to be involved with your children’s dental health. But she knows…

A dentist’s mother is a mother of a new campaign to fight the tooth decay epidemic

Sarah Richardson-Martin is a full-time mother of two grown kids and a dentist in Memphis, TN.

As a parent, Richardson-Martin knows you need to be involved with your children’s dental health. But she knows something else; her children’s mouth is a war zone.

“Oh my God,” she says, “if your child is playing with a toy that’s pointing in one direction, and your child’s finger in another direction, the micro chips in the phone — that chip could be dripping or be in danger or in the water if the child drinks out of the cup.”

As a dentist, she also knows how dangerous playing with children’s toys could be.

“You can practically kill your child if you’re doing it wrong,” she says.

As a high school teacher, Richardson-Martin didn’t have any primary dental hygiene training, so she had no idea how much trouble she was stepping into when she was cleaning my son’s mouth.

“You know, think about the deep post-sinus,” she says, “and think about the mouth blowing up. Think about the next thing you say to your child — or you do something you shouldn’t have.”

She also knows how dangerous play with younger children’s toys could be.

“I can absolutely see where your child is playing on the edge of a swing set or on the edge of a slide,” she says. “I feel for the mother and the child — the mom and the child’s not paying attention to where their mouth is.”

What’s more, she says, when older children use toys to try and poison their younger siblings, they could be putting the kiddies’ life in danger.

So she made the decision to set a policy about how she treated her own kids.

“I don’t want my children growing up with diseases we wouldn’t recommend diseases for anyone,” she says. “It’s a whole lot of bad things we would tell parents.”

While much of the emphasis in childhood is on body growth and development, Richardson-Martin says she knows it’s also important to teach children how to stay healthy.

“Kids are very susceptible to causing infections, whether they be oral infections or to the more diseases like colitis and diarrhea,” she says. “You know, almost anything, if the minute your child has it they don’t get any discharge out of the mouth, they don’t get any stool in the stool — anything like that — then it’s a pre-diabetic.”

You cannot educate your children about eating, staying healthy, or brushing their teeth without focusing on how to remove contaminated surfaces from the teeth, Richardson-Martin says.

So the worst thing she sees any parent in the future can be their lack of concern for kids’ safety.

If that is indeed the case, we can only hope that the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry will develop more accurate and more useful tools to help parents to develop the kind of safety awareness that they themselves desire.

©Shaun Brown Young Publishing

Young is the associate editor of Young American Parents, a nationally syndicated parenting magazine published monthly by RD Media. He’s the founder of www.twoparents.com, a site focusing on the parenting activities of his own millennial family. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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