Tuesday, September 08, 2015

The proper way to brush teeth, plus other facts I learned from Colgate

This post is brought to you by Colgate.

This year, I resolved that my family will actively care for our teeth. That means:
  • a visit to the dentist every 6 months
  • strictly enforcing brushing teeth at bedtime
  • supervising brush teeth time
  • no eating or drinking after brushing teeth
  • flossing
Yep, I confess that I've never been that strict with my kids with their dental health. Of course we nag the boys to brush their teeth (and they do!) but that's it—we just nag but we weren’t in the bathroom checking if they were doing it right.

So what's been happening all this time was the boys eating their Colgate Spider-Man toothpaste! Plus, after "brushing" their teeth, I allowed them to drink milk. Even though I failed to do my parental duty there, my 5-year-old Vito's teeth were spared. Three-year-old Iñigo's teeth had a different story. So their dentist gave us the instructions above and I'm proud to report we've been diligent about this and their teeth have been looking better. Yey!  

Those little cavities on Iñigo's teeth was my wakeup call. Dental health is really important, even with baby teeth. We parents aren't so careful with baby teeth because we know they'll fall out anyway. But the kids' dentist warned us that when baby teeth rot away or need to be extracted, the growth of the permanent teeth is terribly compromised. 

That scared me! So when Colgate invited me and a few other mom bloggers to their “Colgate Healthy Smiles for Healthy Lives” quiz-off at the Seda Hotel in BGC, off I went!

Glowie Robillo, Digital Marketing and Public Relations Manager of Colgate-Palmolive Philippines,  who also happened to be our quiz host, said, “Oral care is and will always be one of the core aspects of a child’s health and well-being. By presenting facts and debunking oral health myths in an engaging way, we are making it relevant to the representatives of new-age moms, the bloggers.” And yes, it was engaging! Colgate quizzed us on oral health myths. Here are two questions that my team answered incorrectly (oops!):

True or False: It is best to rinse with a non-alcohol-based mouthwash immediately after brushing.
FALSE. While the only mouthwash you should use must be non-alcohol-based, you must not rinse mouth immediately after brushing. In fact, you shouldn't even rinse your mouth. At all! Why? Answer this: What is the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your teeth? Flouride. Where is this flouride again? In the toothpaste. What happens when you rinse your mouth? You flush away the toothpaste. So where is the flouride now? Down the drain when it should be in your mouth!

Remember: Do not rinse! Spit out the foam and the food particles. Then walk away. Walk. Away!

True or False: The acidity of your food and drink must be considered before brushing teeth.
TRUE. We're all told to brush teeth after every meal. But don't be too enthusiastic. Acidic food weakens our tooth enamel. Imagine your teeth are still recovering from the acidic food and drink you just had and then you assault them with vigorous brushing. Oh my. Your teeth enamel will be damaged!

This actually happened to me. My former dentist told me my teeth are soooo clean and yet I had cavities!!! Why? Because I brushed immediately after eating and I brushed with extra gigil pa. My enamel weakened so bacteria had an easier time attacking my (ironically) super clean teeth.

After the quiz, Colgate’s resident dentists, Dr. Bong David, Dr. Louie Quiambao and Dr. Noel Luna, as well as the BSBF/Public Health/Professional Oral Care Digital Manager, Diomar Escat, busted even more myths and misconceptions and gave tips, too:
  • The perfect angle to tilt the toothbrush is 45 degrees for optimal reach. And gently sweep the brush down (upper teeth) and up (lower teeth). 
  • Always floss! The ideal length of floss is 20 inches. That's enough to take out all the gunk between your teeth.
  • Mouthwash takes care of the spaces inside the mouth that your toothbrush cannot reach.
  • Retain baby teeth or milk teeth as much as possible. As I said above, they play an important role in guiding the growth of permanent teeth.
The moms at the Colgate quiz-off had sooooo many questions about how to properly care for children's teeth. In fact, we even told Colgate that they should create infomercials so that these tips will be known by all, or at least by everyone who has a TV. For example, that no-rinse tip. It's so important! But no one knows they're NOT supposed to rinse out the toothpaste! Well, because of this blog post, now you do! 

Colgate did a good job enlisting mom bloggers for their efforts to educate parents on proper oral health care for the family. With more and more moms turning online for information (vs traditional sources like their parents and magazines), we mom bloggers have a duty to spread important and science-supported health information!  

Glowie Robillo said, “As long as Colgate is alive and well, it will continue to promote the oral welfare of every Filipino family. Healthy lives start with healthy smiles.” 

True. I just had a visit to my own dentist (see this blog post for that sad story) and I was really discouraged that my neglect of my own oral care because I was too tired and busy to be more careful has resulted to a big financial cost. My necessary dental treatments will cost our family budget P111,000—money that could've gone to Vito’s tuition, a trip to Hong Kong Disneyland, or simply to healthy food. I'm so disappointed in myself! 

That's why I promised that we will be more diligent with our health—everything from careful brushing of our teeth, eating better food, and taking vitamins to exercising. I'll share more about our health adventures on this blog so I’m accountable!

Remember: Angle must be 45 degrees! Brush gently. Spit, do not rinse. 
Meanwhile, visit the Oral Health Center for more information on Colgate products and tips on proper oral care! 

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How to help Syria's refugees

My heart has been heavy over the weekend because of the refugee crisis happening in the Middle East and in Europe right now. I was especially affected, as the whole world has been, by the death of little Aylan Kurdi. Together with his mother, his brother and many other Syrians crossing the Mediterranean Sea towards Europe, Aylan drowned and washed up on a Turkish beach.

It was everything about him that crushed my heart. How he was dressed for a journey that must've been so exciting because I'm sure his parents told him they were going to a better place, a safe place. His little shoes that look just like the little shoes I Velcro on my sons' feet every day. His red shirt just like the ones I put on my Iñigo, who wears red all the time. In fact, whenever 3-year-old Iñigo saw the photo of 3-year-old Aylan on the news or on my Facebook feed, he asked, "Is that me, Mama? Am I dead?"

I won't say anything more about this distressing crisis. I had thought before, when the Syrian civil war started almost 5 years ago, that it's so far away. Poor people. I hope they sort it out. I hate how apathetic that sounds but my last five years have been full—I got pregnant three times, gave birth three times, am raising beautiful boys, changed careers. Life has been amazing. Absolutely amazing and yet every day, I find something to complain about.

Not anymore.

If you would like to understand how the civil war in Syria started, this comic strip describes it succinctly: Syria's Climate-Fueled Conflict.

This short article also describes the history of the conflict with the environmental factor removed: Why People are Fleeing Syria.

Here is an old video of actress and director Angelina Jolie meeting a group of Syrian siblings. It is heartbreaking how they keep smiling through it all, like this is their life now and while they don't understand it, they persevere:

If you need to read something more recent, here is an essay of writer Neil Gaiman who visited a refugee camp, no, he visited a refugee city in Jordan: "So many ways to die in Syria now."

If you would like to help the Syrians and other refugees, you can donate to the following organizations:
  • Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) - They have three ships patrolling Mediterranean waters to rescue refugees.
  • Red Cross - I checked our local chapter if they have a way for us Pinoys to donate to the Syrian refugees. Found none (although there is a donate button there for victims of the devastating Nepal earthquake). So if you like Red Cross, donate via their international website.
  • Save the Children - Donations will buy safe drinking water, nutritious food, tents and sleeping bags, and even diapers and wipes. I especially like how they renamed this whole horror from "migrant crisis" to "CHILD crisis."
  • World Vision - Funds will go to providing the basics from water, food, blankets to education and a safe place for children to play.

Last of all but for me the most important, please pray for them—the people of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan all fleeing from the war in their countries. Pray for their safety, their health, their protection, their spirits, and that families will be kept together. Please pray for their evil governments, that they stop this horrific crime they are doing on their own people. Please pray for the countries these refugees are fleeing to, that their hearts will soften and accept these refugees into their countries especially now that winter is coming.

I am also praying for myself, for God to remove the now-burning hate anger for Assad and his regime, and for all the monsters who kill children and destroy families. There is a deep sadness in my heart that I just can't shake off. God have mercy on us all.
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Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The better choice isn't always the easiest choice

Contrary to what the title of this post may evoke, I'm not going to talk about morality issues. I'm talking about shopping. Yes, shopping!

As you all know (well, at least my Loyal Readers do!), I have always wanted a Tod's D Bag. But I never could bring myself to buy it because:
A. It's frakkin' expensive. Even though I can afford it, I just can't bring myself to fork over P100,000++ for a bag because...
B. I abuse my bags. Place them on the floor, throw them on the sofa, make them pillows. Plus, as a writer, I am always with a pen and I always end up accidentally writing on my bags or with ink spillage, which is sooo painful because...
C. See Reason A.
Well, now that I'm a mommy, another reason has come up:
D. Something always comes up.
Tuition fees. Vaccination fees. Maids who suddenly need to borrow money. And—the real culprit—our delight in spoiling our kids silly. Legos and it's not even your birthday? Sure! Cute Avengers pajamas? Sure! You like all those books even if you can't read yet? Sure!

Sigh. My husband Vince and I really enjoy making our sons happy. We spoil them with our presence (we both work from home so we are with the kids practically 24/7) and we spoil them with gifts because it is so much fun. It's for us—we enjoy the toys and costumes and games together so the money lavished on our family is always worth it.

So anyway, today, after a lunch with the Baby Magazine staff, as I was on my way to meet my Uber car, I passed by Tod's. And found this:

A Tod's D-Bow Bag in the perfect pink, the perfect size, and this time with gold accents. Total cost: P115,000.
Photos from Tod's Fall-Winter 2015 D-Bow Collection

A woman who was also shopping told me, "Don't Instagram it if you're not buying it. Someone will see your post and buy the bag."

It's not the exact D Bag I wanted (I always wanted the greige one) so it was easy enough for me to laugh at her warning and put it back on the shelf. But as I walked out of the shop, I looked back at the pink cutie and thought, "It has my name written all over it. Maybe... maybe..."

But my Uber had arrived and I hopped in because I needed to see my dentist. On the way, I suddenly decided, "Sure. Why not? Sure, it's Reason A but I'm earning more now than I ever did when I was an employee. And, sure, there's still Reason B but I'll take care of it because of Reason A!"

Then, as always, Reason D happened.

At the dentist, I learned that I needed to have my wisdom teeth extracted, a bridge made, and braces installed. Total cost: P111,000.

Perfect Tod's D Bag: P115,000

Perfect teeth: P111,000

You know what I picked, right? Yup. I've already scheduled the procedures. But the braces, I'll need to ask permission from my blog sponsors first because I have videos and photo shoots to do. They might not like the metal mouth. Not only am I practical, I am also considerate. Right? Right. Yey me!

And yet, at the dentist's chair, as I stared at the bright spotlight aimed at my mouth, I fought with this unreasonable sadness. When I was poor, I always had to pick what made sense—what product I can afford, what service is worth it, what will benefit more people (a.k.a. my family), which more often than not meant I had to do without. I didn't have a choice since I had very little money. Now that I'm a lot better off, I have choices but I'm still picking what makes sense. In many ways, this is why my husband and I live the way we do—no debt, comfortable life. We hardly ever lived beyond our means. We are always practical. We aren't miserly at all, okay? In fact, we have quite the cushy life! But the unnecessary things like designer bags and designer shoes are just deemed impractical, even illogical. We do have designer furniture but everyone benefits from furniture so those purchases made sense.

I always made sense.

People tell me, "Ganyan talaga pag nanay na." But I've always been like this. Ever since I was a little girl. And it's served me well so it's okay.

But earlier today, as that unreasonable sadness threatened to overwhelm me, I fought with the thought: "Why don't I ever just throw caution to the wind? Why must I always always be practical? Am I boring? Am I old? Have I always been boring and old?"

Thankfully, my sensibility overpowered that stupid voice inside my head as I penciled in my next dental appointment with the clinic's secretary. I made the better choice, I said. And I did.

I guess I'm just sad because I realized my poor upbringing still makes me think I'm poor. I take care of myself but I don't spoil myself because that's just, you know, frivolous. When my husband brings me to a nice restaurant, I always pick the cheapest item on the menu. I shop for my clothes on eBay. Almost all my clothes now are freebies from brands actually. I refuse to let my husband buy me gifts. I hold on to trash because what if I'll need a square of leftover gift wrapper? I smooth out aluminum foil so we can use them again. When I make sandwiches for my husband, I pack it with slices of cheese and ham or salami but when I make my sandwiches, I put just one slice. When I make Biscoff sandwiches for my kids, I slather the spread on thick, but my own Biscoff sandwiches, I just scratch on a thin layer. Why oh why do I do this?!

Of course, my dental procedures are just as costly as the Tod's D-Bow Bag so I'm not making the less expensive choice. I guess the sadness—the first time I've ever felt this way over a shopping choice!—surprised me because it made me wonder—for the first time ever—if I'm taking care of myself right. It made me realize that I think nothing of spending lots of money on my boys but when it comes to me, I think I don't deserve it. And that's sad. Sad that I think it. Sad that I don't allow others, from my husband to my friends, to spoil me. Sad that I—self-proclaimed feminist/pro-woman/girl power advocate—believe that I don't deserve to have nice things, after all.

Sadness, begone! My teeth need to be fixed! That's still caring for me! Right? Right. Silliness over. A perfect smile is waaaaaay better than a pink bag. Right? Right.

The better choice isn't always the easiest choice, I said, but it is still the better choice. I'll just keep telling myself that!

P.S. Can someone buy me the Tod's Small D-Bow Bag in pink abroad??? It's just P81,000 abroad!

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