We love the holiday season at Children & Teen Dental. It’s a wonderful time for families to take a break, enjoy time together, and celebrate!
Now, healthy teeth might be the last thing on your mind this holiday season, but a broken tooth or cavity is not the way you or your children want to finish this holiday season. Taking care of your child’s teeth, however, doesn’t mean you have to be a grinch.
In this post, we’ll discuss several ways you can keep your child’s teeth healthy in a festive way.
Replace candy canes with peppermint gum
Candy canes are a popular treat this time of year, but can cause quite a few problems for your teeth. Hard candy, in general, isn’t good for oral health because it takes so long to consume. As the hard candy slowly dissolves inside your child’s mouth, it gives the sugar plenty of time to just sit and expedite tooth decay.
Hard candies are also problematic because it’s tempting to take a bite out of them. Biting hard candy creates the risk of chipping a tooth and causing instant damage. And of course, most kids are tempted to lick their candy cane to create a sharp point, which can easily cut or hurt their gums.
A great alternative to get that peppermint taste is sugar free gum with the ADA stamp of approval. Chewing gum stimulates saliva flow, which in turn cleans the mouth and helps fight tooth decay. Chewing gum makes a great stocking stuffer for kids, as well!
Choose cookies with less sugar
Cookies are a very popular treat during the holidays. The problem is, most cookies are full of sugar. Sugar causes tooth decay by fueling bacteria growth and acid production in your mouth. Fortunately, there are some delicious holiday cookies that are low in sugar.
For instance, gingerbread cookies have a smaller amount of sugar and are also high in fiber. Another example is oatmeal cookies where you can replace the sugar with applesauce and they are still delicious! For more ideas on healthier cookies and desserts this Christmas, check out Healthy Holiday Snacks for you and your kids.
Many families have a tradition of leaving cookies out for Santa, but don’t forget about the reindeer! Leave some carrots out for them, and then you can make eating carrots fun for the kids. Invite them to do their best reindeer impression and you can turn carrots into a treat!
Limit sugar time
While it would be difficult to go the entire holiday season without any sugar, it’s important to limit the amount of sugar time. The longer sugar is in your child’s mouth, the more time it has for bacteria and acid to grow and cause decay. One of the best ways to limit sugar time — only eat treats with meals.
This is good for multiple reasons:
- It means sugar is only in the mouth two or three times a day. When we snack on cookies, chocolate, and candy canes throughout the day, your child’s mouth will not get a break from sugar.
- Eating food increases saliva production in your mouth. Saliva does an excellent job of neutralizing acid and cleansing the teeth. When a sugary cookie or piece of pie is eaten with turkey, green beans, and a glass of water, then it won’t be able to stick around throughout the entire season.
- It’s also very important that no sugar is eaten after the bedtime teeth brushing. While it might be tempting to imitate Santa and eat some late night cookies, you really don’t want the sugar causing decay all night long. So make sure everyone in your family brushes their teeth before bed.
Recruit Hermey the Elf
Hermey the Elf, famous for wanting to be a dentist in the holiday special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, has teamed up with the ADA to make taking care of teeth fun for kids this year. Visit Hermey’s Mouth Healthy Holiday workshop to take a quiz on healthy teeth, download and print coloring sheets, or get Hermey’s Holiday Brushing Chart.
Brush and floss teeth regularly
Excitement around presents, family, and fun activities can make it hard to remember to brush and floss. It’s also difficult when routines go out the window, and during the holidays kids are home from school and parents take time off work.
If Hermey’s Holiday Brushing Chart isn’t enough motivation, try encouraging your kids to hum their favorite holiday tunes as they brush. Many songs last about two minutes, which will help ensure they brush for the appropriate amount of time to keep their teeth clean and healthy.
Visit the dentist
After all the fruit cake, cookies, parties, and other festive activities, it’s not a bad idea to visit the dentist to get your child’s teeth cleaned. Here at Children & Teen Dental, we specialize in pediatric dentistry. We love working with children and know how to handle their specific needs, and we treat everyone like family.
Kid’s Healthy Teeth during the Holidays