While Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza only come once a year, we tend to pack a lot of excess eating into this short time. Nearly everyone – especially little ones – associate the holidays with sweet, decadent treats. From candy canes to Hanukkah gelt, temptations abound; and while it’s easier for adults to put our hands up when we are full, children have a tough time turning down their mouthwatering stocking loot.
While we chant Twas’ The Night Before Christmas and dream of sugarplums dancing in our heads, it can be easy to forget about dental health. But rather than face cavities and tooth decay in the New Year, it’s best to take small steps to maintain healthy gums and teeth during the holiday season, and all year round. This means we must also talk to our children about simple solutions to keep those teeth in tip-top shape. The good thing is: it’s not as difficult as you may think.
We’ve all heard parents tell children, “finish your supper and then you can have dessert!” However, as it turns out, it’s better to incorporate sugary snacks into the meal. According to the American Dental Association, it’s best for children to indulge while simultaneously eating healthier foods (like fruits and vegetables). As soon as someone eats a sugary item, the mouth converts it into acid. Because sugar feeds on bacteria in the mouth, it’s recommended to interchange between more neutral and calcium-rich food items to prevent cavities. Perhaps, you might drink milk with your cookies!
While you’re hanging those stockings with care, be sure to include a snazzy new toothbrush to keep “mouth monsters,” a.k.a. bacteria, at bay. For your child’s comfort, you’ll want to select a soft brush with round-ended bristles, and be sure it has the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Your children will love that it features their favorite character, and you’ll enjoy not having to battle them to brush. It’s a win-win.
It’s no surprise that Americans love their soda; the problem is that it’s a sugar bomb on your teeth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends moderating children’s sugar intake, especially soft drinks – which erode teeth even more than juices. Don’t burst their bubble; choose an unsweetened carbonated water infused with real fruit, in lieu of sugary soda drinks. Alkaline mineral water also has the added benefit of neutralizing sugar-laden foods that will inevitably be within reach during the “most wonderful time of the year.”
Get a little cheesy. No, we don’t mean cracking embarrassing “dad jokes.” The AAPD recommends feeding children cheddar, swiss, and mozzarella cheese as a snack or after a meal, to neutralize acids on teeth and clear the mouth of food.
Don’t risk having a brush with cavities. Explain to children the importance of brushing their teeth for two minutes, twice a day. When they are very young, it’s best to supervise them while brushing, or do so next to them so they can follow along. The ADA cleverly suggests cranking up a child’s favorite tune for a brushing party!
Lastly, take advantage of school’s holiday break. This is the perfect time to schedule them a regular check-up & teeth cleaning. After all, the gift of good health is one that’s priceless.
The aforementioned tips are simple resolutions you can make to keep your little one’s mouth healthy. Should you have any more questions or concerns, Dr. Dung Bui and the dental professionals at Dedicated Dental Care are happy to offer more insight into how to prevent cavities during the holiday season. In addition to their work with fillings, root canals, veneers, dentures, and teeth straightening, they offer a warm & unique approach to pediatric dentistry that will erase any nervousness your child may feel about dental visits. Call Dedicated Dental today at (702) 566-5509, or request your appointment online.