Ever tried getting a kid to brush their teeth? If you have, then I’m sure you know what a challenge it can be. It was exactly this struggle that Sharell and her partner Terence faced on a daily basis with their seven-year-old son Marshall. He hated brushing his teeth. In fact he hated it so much that he would do anything to avoid it.
Terence explains, “Marshall used to pretend he was brushing his teeth so ended up with smelly breath, and that’s where the idea for Smelly Breath Max came from. His mum helped to shape it into the story it is today with Marshall’s inspiration and you can now buy the Smelly Breath Max storybook in digital bookshops globally. Sharell had a good voice so I suggested that she recorded a song about it. What basically started out as a bit of fun soon grew into something much bigger.”
Together Sharell and her partner developed the story into an animated cartoon on YouTube and a singing toothbrush to encourage kids everywhere to brush their teeth. It’s now a certified dental product and can be found in dentists and on eBay and Amazon.
Sharell sadly died of breast cancer in 2017, leaving behind her partner Terence, her two young boys and a legacy full of potential.
“We were together for 15 years and now she’s not with us. I still can’t believe it. I’ve got the toothbrush, the animation, the book, I just don’t have Sharell. She was a fantastic, loving mum who was always busy doing something fun with the kids. She was very child orientated and wanted to make teeth brushing something for kids to enjoy.
It’s heartbreaking that she’s not here to see the product grow. It’s her voice singing on the toothbrush. It’s her legacy. I remember making that recording with her with a mic in the living room. My youngest son Zachary, now six, still uses the toothbrush and every morning and evening you can hear him singing with his mum.
The best thing I can do to recover is grow Sharell’s legacy and tell her story
This toothbrush has given me a new purpose. It educates kids and helps parents motivate their children to brush their teeth. And if we could somehow use it to help other kids who have lost a parent that would be a dream come true because I know that’s what Sharell was all about; helping people.”
After their mum died, Marshall and Zachary started coming to St Christopher’s for counselling with the Candle Child Bereavement Service.
“Jenny from Candle is fantastic, I’ve never met someone so understanding. Marshall wouldn’t talk about his mum dying, but she got him to open up about it. My sons didn’t know what to expect when they first came to one of the child bereavement groups at the hospice, but they ended up having a really fun time. It showed them that they weren’t alone. Before that we were just at home, we were shell-shocked, and the boys couldn’t really talk to their friends about it because they didn’t understand. Their friends just took it for granted that they had their mums.
It was also important for me to talk to people who understand. Jenny’s experience and encouragement was a great support. It helped me to see that there are other people in my situation and, with the support around me, I’m starting to adjust to life without Sharell. The best thing I can do to recover is grow her legacy and tell her story. She’s not here now, but she’s living on in our hearts and through the toothbrush.”
If, like Marshall, your children need some encouragement with teeth brushing, you can get them a Smelly Breath Max toothbrush at www.smellybreathmax.com and make brushing fun.