When she isn’t playing Commander Michael Burnham on the Paramount+ original series Star Trek: Discovery (which just wrapped Season 4), actress Sonequa Martin-Green is down to earth, a wife and mom of two children, helping her kids stay on top of their dental hygiene. It’s always been important to Martin-Green and her husband, fellow actor Kenric Green, to keep their smiles sparkling.

“We’re always looking for the new thing, the new thing that’s going to sort of tip us over and give us that edge,” she tells ESSENCE. “I can remember there have been periods where we’re like, ‘Oh, we found a tongue scraper! Oh, that’s going to change the game!’”

But getting her kiddos, a 7-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter, to get into it hasn’t been the easiest. That’s why she’s excited to get some help from Crest’s new Kids Advanced oral health line. The first product to come from it is the Crest Kids Enamel + Cavity Protection toothpaste (for kids six and up), which they pair with the Oral-B Kids Electric Toothbrush. Both have helped her son to stay cavity-free (not one ever!), which she’s ecstatic about.

Martin-Green chatted with ESSENCE about her partnership with the Crest brand, watching her little ones grow up and lose their baby teeth, and how she juggles her work with being a hands-on mom.

ESSENCE: Your smile is always poppin’, so you have to tell me, how important is practicing good dental hygiene in your family?

Sonequa-Martin Green: It’s hard with kids. And we’ve got a rambunctious, jovial boy who doesn’t feel like standing there, so we have to make it fun for him and explain to him, “This is important, son. You’ve got to do this, and you’ve got to do this right. You’ve got to brush as long as it takes to go do your ABCs and back.” And so we’re excited, because anything that can help us, anything that can make it a little bit easier is great. Which is why I was excited for this partnership because it came at the perfect time.

How is he taking to Crest Kids Enamel + Cavity Protection and going from baby teeth to adult teeth?

Well, he’s gotten a lot of adult teeth pretty early actually, so he was only snaggle-toothed for, I don’t know, a couple of days actually, which is kind of strange. But they left, and then the adult ones were right behind it. I’m glad I got a picture because it didn’t last. It was great.

But he’s loving the Crest Kids Enamel and Cavity Protection toothpaste because he always wants new toothpaste. So now it’s this brand new one, and he’s excited to use it, especially because of everything that it does. It offers that enamel protection against sugars and acids. And of course, he always wants sugar, so we’ve got to be careful about that, but at least now we have the assurance, and we can feel confident that he’s being protected. But he’s enjoying it. And with the Oral-B toothbrush too, he’s having a good time.

And how are you coping, watching your son go from the baby teeth, which is like a marker of childhood, little kids, to now he’s got adult teeth. He’s growing up!

As soon as those adult teeth come in, the game changes, and now things get a little more serious. I love it. I love watching him grow. And every time he gets a new tooth, we say, “Look, son. You are really growing up. Look at you. You got your adult teeth. You’re a big boy.” I don’t know. It’s splendid to watch, but then it’s also bittersweet because you’re losing the baby, but it’s good.

You also just had another child correct?

Our daughter yes. She’ll be two in July. So we’re still with her baby teeth. She’s not really having it right now. We try to get in there and brush her teeth, and she’s kind of like, “Uh, I don’t like this.”

Does that determine for your toddler what you give her? Are you like, “Do we want to give her anything sweet? Do we want to wait?”

Oh yeah. 1000 percent. Yeah, we’re really conscious about that stuff. And you’re right, especially with juices, because they’re just so packed with sugar. I use a lot of stuff that is sweetened with Stevia. Even the brand, there’s a brand that has these Stevia sweetened carbonated drinks. And they have kids’ ones that are juice flavored. So we go with that a lot in terms of drinking, and then we just don’t do the desserts and candy and stuff. It’s harder for him, because he’s older and he gets it at school and at birthday parties and holidays and stuff like that. So it’s a little harder to avoid with him, but with her, we’re still able to, so we just try not to give her the stuff that’s packed, packed, packed with sugar.

What do you love as a parent about this new line, the whole Crest Kids Advanced product line they’re coming out with, and how it’s helping in a way to have that protection with all of the sweets and things that kids eat? Toothpaste has just kind of been about being fun and sweet for kids.

That is so true. That’s a really good point, because yeah, that’s what it’s always been. It’s always been bubbly fun, dinosaurs and characters and whatnot, and just the only thing that was important was that it tasted good. Kids want their toothpaste to taste good. But what’s great about this new Crest line is it’s the most advanced kids’ toothpaste that they’ve ever done and that I’ve ever seen, something that really provides that enamel protection, and it’s a 24-hour shield, so that’s legit. That’s a long time for their teeth to be protected. And I really appreciate it because it does taste good as well. I’m really happy selfishly for myself because my son’s oral health is on another level now, and I can calm down.

Lastly, how do you find balance in general? I mean, that’s not really a realistic thing for people, but how do you balance motherhood, being there to do the brushing of the teeth and all of that with your career and with Star Trek: Discovery?

You’re right. You can’t really find balance. That’s not really possible. It requires a perspective shift, right? It’s really just about priorities and being in the moment and just giving your all to the moment that you’re in. That’s something I’ve been trying to learn and teaching myself, especially these last few years, especially now that I have two children. It’s really about, okay, so the scale is never going to be completely even with every single thing that I need to do, but I can at least have peace that I have given myself to each of these individual moments and engaged as much as I possibly could. So I think that’s the only way to move forward for me, otherwise you kind of drive yourself insane and the mommy guilt tries to come in every step of the way.

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