How My Mom Saved My Smile

A Guest Post By Lauren Modeen, Oppose Tobacco Tactics Community Leader

I was lucky. Really lucky. I was born from an aware, responsible mother. A mother who realized I was a kid, and had many childhood years ahead of me before I could be left to my own devices. During those years, she role-modeled, exposed me to what I needed to be exposed to, and helped me construct (in baby steps) a good head on my shoulders.

One winter day I was ice-skating on a pond with my best friend. I hit a branch frozen into the ice and went flying. I split my lip wide open, and knocked out a few baby teeth. It wasn’t pretty. Realizing that my injury might permanently damage my incoming grown-up teeth, my mom religiously flossed around the injury every night before bed to make sure I didn’t develop any infections. This went on for about 6 months.

When I asked her years later why she did it, she said, in her opinion, it was just what she had to do for her kid. How could I have known as a seven year old that an infected mouth might lead to a permanently deformed smile in my later adult years? That’s right, I couldn’t have. She had to do what was necessary until I was fully formed and could act in my best interest, on my own behalf.

Fast forward to today. In the last few months I started working with the Oppose Tobacco Tactics online community. It‘s an initiative started by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health aiming to raise awareness around sneaky big tobacco marketing tactics aimed at youth. Sneaky tactics like developing tobacco products that look just like gum and candy, are flashy, fruity, look really cool, and are priced extremely low so kids can easily buy with not much more than their lunch money. Only difference from gum and candy is that these products cause mouth cancer, heart disease, and emphysema.

When I think about these tactics, I recall my own childhood and shudder at the shenanigans I could have gotten into had it not been for an aware adult in my life. Without her, I am sure I would have been duped by this very marketing myself. I was a kid, after all. I probably would have also ended up with a busted smile.

With that said, this makes me incredibly passionate about the Oppose online community. A group of parents working together to out these sneaky tobacco tactics, helping kids avoid them. Help kids avoid nasty stuff before they fully realize the damage it can do to them. If you agree with me, please join.

Here are 6 easy ways to get involved and take positive action:

1) Join to learn more about what’s going on and get involved.
2) Follow @OpposeTobaccoMA and RT our tweets

3) Fan the Facebook page –

4) Blog about your thoughts on this on your personal blog

5) Attend a mall event near you –

6) Forward this post to parents and adults you know who might want to get involved

Thanks for reading. And thanks Mom for helping save my smile.

Lauren Modeen

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  1. Emily says

    Your tooth story struck a chord with me because my son had a bad injury to his teeth last fall, which turned into an infection and then required an extraction just before his 3rd birthday. It is so hard seeing your child get hurt. My husband and I happily forked over $300 extra for light sedation, and it was worth every cent! (Maybe I should have flossed as carefully & consistently as your mom did!) By the way, I found this Mom’s Guide to have some really helpful tooth info as we were going through all our dental drama. Thanks for this post, and also, a big thank you for your advocating against sneaky tobacco tactics. Really scary the kinds of things are kids can be faced with.

  2. Erika @NAMAmmaSTE says

    What a great cause! It didn’t even occur to me that the tobacco industry, now less able to target children with cigarette ads, are now using other products to get people hooked from a young age. I am a little disconnected from that considering my little one is only a toddler, but I still can’t believe I missed that. Thank you for this wonderful (and very well written) reminder that we have to “help kids avoid nasty stuff before they fully realize the damage it can do to them”. I will definitely be blogging about this.

  3. says

    It’s great that your mom paid such great attention to your dental health. I wish all parents did the same, maybe then there wouldn’t be so many people with teeth-related problems! Then again, I guess that’s what dentists are for, right?

  4. says

    Those tobacco companies are so darn sneaky. When I was a young kid have heard that cigarettes are specifically place so that they could be stolen by kid to hook them on smoking when they were young. I have noticed that cigarettes are now kept behind the counter. SO glad that they have been moved!

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