If your child is like most this time of year, their thoughts are on presents and goodies. With all the food and treats and snacking that goes on in the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it can be a challenge for parents to keep up with good oral care over the holidays. Despite their consumption of sugar, you can help your child take care of their teeth over the holidays and avoid the many pitfalls of holiday snacking. Here are some things you can do this holiday season to protect your child’s teeth this holiday season:
Why Is Sugar Bad for Dental Health?
It is important to understand and help your child understand why sugar is bad for their teeth and what damage it can do. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth feed on this sugar, and the by-product is acid. It is this acid that will eat away at the enamel of the teeth and cause cavities and tooth decay. The more time teeth spend with sugar on them the more acid it is exposed to and the more damage the teeth can encounter. Hard candies, and sticky candies such as taffy and caramel, can be worse for teeth than other treats such as cake and cookies. Hard candies take a long time to suck on and finish which continually bathes teeth in sugar. Taffy and sticky candy get stuck in the crevasse of the teeth and can cause major problems as well. Talk to your child about the importance of their teeth and the risks associated with sugary snacks so they understand why you are telling them to limit the snacking this holiday season.
Limit Sugar and Snack Time
It is important to protect your child’s teeth this holiday season, and a good way to do that is to limit the amount of time they are eating sugar as well as the amount of sugar they are eating. Have them eat one dessert rather than lots of little snacks and bites all day long as this will reduce the amount of time their teeth are exposed to harmful sugar. Additionally, limit the amount of soda and juice that your children drink since these drinks wash over teeth and gums. When they do have a snack or sugary drink in the middle of the day, have them brush or at least rinse well afterward. Rather than sucking on hard candy or grazing on cookies and pie and chips for hours after the main meal, reduce how much they are eating and when they are eating. This will limit the chances for the bacteria to produce acid and will reduce the damage done to their teeth before they are able to brush properly. This simple change in the meal plan can go a long way to help you protect your child’s teeth this holiday season.
Brush after Eating a Sugary Treat
As a general rule, the ADA recommends that everyone brush their teeth and gums at least twice a day for at least two minutes each time. Flossing should also be done at least once a day. If you are unable to brush or floss after a meal it is advised to chew sugarless gum or at the very least rinse your mouth out well several times with warm water. During the holidays, it is important to encourage your child to brush and floss after the big meal. Also, offer them water to drink after the meal to help wash away food particles and remove the majority of the sugar that builds up from the foods they have eaten.
Make Toothbrushing Fun
“While it is important to stress good dental care throughout the year, the holidays present a special opportunity to make dental health fun. Perhaps you can buy your children a toothbrush in their favorite color or a toothbrush that is decorated with their favorite cartoon character. Colored floss is also fun!” (Kid’s Healthy Teeth). Give them an early Christmas present of a new toothbrush, floss, and rinse that they can start using. Also, try to make daily teeth brushing a family affair so they can see that adults do it too and it is something important that needs to be done for the rest of their lives. Find ways to make it fun, make it a game, offer little rewards for milestones, and keep encouraging your child to maintain good dental care habits.
Schedule a Follow-up Dental Cleaning
Last but not least, it is important to get those pearly whites checked out before the end of the year. Your child probably has time off from school for the holidays so make sure you use it to your advantage. This is a great time to schedule a cleaning and check-up with your children’s dentist. It can be a great way to end the year with healthy teeth and make sure they are on track for a good start to the new year ahead. Make sure you talk to their dentist about any concerns you have or problems you are seeing and also ask them for additional tips on how to protect your child’s teeth this holiday season and beyond.
To set up a new patient appointment for your child before the holiday rush, contact us today here at Forest City Dental. We would love to get to know you and your child and help you give them the brightest and healthiest smile possible. Call today to learn more about how you can protect your child’s teeth this holiday season!