Originally published on the Huffington Post blog.
I have been lucky in my life. I have been lucky in ways that I could not have imagined. I grew up in Sunnyside, a small town in south-eastern Washington, where the winters were long and gray and I yearned to be someplace else. It was my dream to go to Hollywood, to stand under the bright sun and be on television. If you told the 8-year-old me that that is exactly what I would grow up to do, I wouldn’t have believed you.
My family and Hispanic heritage were monumental to my success. I was supported, cared for and given the strength to go out and follow my dreams to Southern California, where endless opportunities awaited, including opportunities at Access Hollywood and later, E! News.
Being the first Latina E! News correspondent was a huge honor. I loved my coworkers and my team and was able to be a voice for the many thousands of Latina women who were watching my program each night.
While I thought that being on television was demanding, I had no idea the responsibility and resolve it takes to be a parent. My son Mateo joined me and my husband last year, and I have been overwhelmed by my love for him. He has also presented me with a whole new set of challenges, most importantly keeping my baby boy happy and healthy. Parenting is the toughest job I’ve ever had but it’s also the most rewarding.
The Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives is a coalition of more than 35 leading dental health organizations that believes every child deserves a healthy smile. I learned from working with them that neglecting dental care can lead to a lifetime of tooth pain and an unhealthy mouth can be associated with a number of other long-term serious health consequences such as obesity, diabetes and even heart disease. Also, while dental disease impacts all children, it disproportionately affects children from low-income families and minorities.
I just bought Mateo his first toothbrush so I can brush his teeth with a tiny bit of fluoride toothpaste. And when he’s old enough to brush his own teeth for two minutes twice a day, I’m committed to teaching him how to do it (and not to skip!) to help ensure he grows up with a healthy mouth and good overall health.
Being a busy parent who’s juggling a number of things on a daily basis, I can totally see how making sure our children brush for 2 minutes, twice a day can slide every once in a while. A new survey that is being released today put things in perspective a bit more for me. The survey found that 3 out of 4 parents report that their kids sometimes forget to brush. And I’ve learned through this campaign that brushing regularly from a young age is a key aspect of maintaining a healthy mouth.
In an effort to help parents better understand that poor dental health can have serious consequences, and educate families about good dental health habits, the Ad Council and Kids’ Healthy Mouths campaign created new public service ads (PSAs) highlighting the importance of good dental health. The new PSAs are humorous depictions of life lessons which make the point that while parenting can be difficult at times, getting kids to brush for two minutes, twice a day can be easier than most other things parents will try to teach their children. The new PSAs are debuting this afternoon at the American Dental Association (ADA) annual meeting and will be available for media outlets nationwide this week.
I encourage parents and caregivers to go to 2min2x.org to take advantage of the resources available to make brushing easier for them and more fun for their kids. To name a few, check out the 2-minute videos kids can watch while brushing, download the Toothsavers mobile game app and register for the new text messaging program.
And, just as I’ve learned, I hope that this campaign and these great resources help parents understand that dental health is just as important as any other part of raising a happy and a healthy child.