Naughty or Nice:
How to Help Your Kids Take Care of
Their Teeth During the Holidays
During the holiday seasons there are going to be copious amounts of candy canes, deserts and cookies being passed around. And even though you’ll do your best to limit how much sugar your children consume, it’s fair to say that they’re going to be eating quite a lot of sugary things at holiday parties.
However, there are a number of ways you can let your kids enjoy this increased sugar intake whilst still keeping their teeth healthy, minimizing your need to seek urgent dental care near you at a later date.
What Can Sugar Do To Children’s Teeth?
From peppermint candy to chocolate cake, it’s hard to make your children avoid sugar entirely. It’s this sugar that the mouth’s naturally occurring bacteria feed on, producing acid as a byproduct. This acid can then start to corrode the enamel of the tooth, leading to cavities and tooth decay. The longer the teeth are exposed to this sugar, the more risk there is that your children will suffer from dental problems. Sticky and hard candies can be worse for your child’s teeth than other sweeter treats like cookies and cake.
Brushing Teeth After Eating Sugar
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that everyone, both children and adults, brush their teeth and gums for two minutes, twice a day. At least once a day, you should also floss your teeth. However, during the holiday season when more sugary things are being consumed, it’s recommended to up this brushing and flossing, trying to encourage your children to do this straight after they’ve had a sugary treat.
If you’re out and about and a toothbrush isn’t handy, try to make them rinse their mouths with water as this will help to get rid of any excess acid, sugar or other food particles.
Limit the Amount Time They’re Eating Sugar For
With hard candies, your child is going to be consuming these over a longer period of time, which is why this is one of the worst things for the health of your children’s teeth. Try to limit how much time they are eating this for as well as the amount of juice and soda that your child drinks. If they do eat hard candy or drink these types of drinks, make sure they rinse their mouths out afterwards.
Allow them to chew sugarless gum, as this will not only keep their mouths busy but it’ll also encourage saliva production, which helps to wash the sugar away too. You can also encourage cheese as a dessert as this help to neutralize the acid in their mouths.
Incorporate Dessert into a Meal
Instead of leaving the sugary desserts until last, try to incorporate it into a meal this holiday. This has more than one benefit. Firstly, eating sugar at the same time as your meal is better for you and these other healthier foods will also help to remove the sugar from your teeth. They also help to neutralize the acids that are produced by the sugar that’s been ingested.
Make Sure Brushing Teeth is Fun!
Because of the greater importance of brushing teeth during the holiday season, it’s a good idea to make brushing teeth even more fun. You could buy them a cool new toothbrush that has their favorite character on, or is in their favorite color. There are also some funky colored flosses available, which will add to the overall excitement of brushing teeth!
Visit the Dentist
During the holidays your child will probably have some time off from school, which makes it a great time to pop in and see your child’s dentist. Make an appointment to have your child’s teeth checked on and cleaned. You can also ask your dentist if they’d recommend any other ways of keeping your kid’s teeth healthy and whether there are any underlying concerns that you need to watch out for.
The key to protecting your child’s teeth during the holidays is to avoid letting them consume too much sugar without spoiling their fun. There’s no reason why they can’t enjoy some additional sugary treats just so long as they rinse and floss afterwards. And, if you feel as though they are eating too much sugar, you can always make up some healthier snacks for them too – telling them Santa is watching to make sure they look after their teeth! Why not try introducing carrots as a snack – they are Rudolph’s favorite after all!
Mike Plambeck is a dental marketing professional who writes about the world of online dental marketing as well as educational dental health topics. He lives in Lincoln, NE and raises 2 kids, Noah and Dani, along with his wife Marissa.