It’s official, the holiday season is here! Your kids and the plaque bacterias in their mouths are ecstatic, but their teeth are quivering in fear! Don’t worry, here at South Davis Pediatric Dentistry we understand that part of the holiday cheer is the goodies, the chocolates, the candy canes, the cookies and all the other yummy things only eaten this time of year. It isn’t fair to expect you to spend the entire holiday season saying ‘no’. Instead, we’ve made a list of holiday tips for a healthy dental holiday season.
1. Brush, brush, and brush!
This is an important part of everyday life. Pack it into your morning and night routines, and don’t forget even with the holiday bustle. Brushing teeth twice a day from an early age will not only help to instill healthy dental habits but will ensure the holiday doesn’t wreak havoc on their pearly whites. On days when they’ve had a lot of sweets or something really sticky, consider doing an extra brushing after their midday meal or just right after the sweet treat. Ideally, we should all brush our teeth for two minutes at a time. This can be tricky with kids, so consider singing a song (maybe a holiday jingle for the season) while they brush to help them go the distance. When they’ve finished brushing, grab the brush and take a turn also. It can be hard for little hands to get the places in the back or up on top.
The importance of floss cannot be overstated when it comes to having healthy teeth for the holidays. Those sweet foods and candies love the grooves and tight spaces between your kids’ teeth and will happily stay there despite a good brushing. Get out the floss, and consider doing a little show-and-tell for your kids so they can see what the floss is able to snag even after brushing. Sometimes seeing is believing!
3. Keep your dental appointments.
The crush of the holiday season and the places to go and the things to do can have you going all over town and out of town. You might feel pressure to cancel a holiday dental appointment. Please don’t! Regular dental checkups for your kids are important. When scheduling, consider trying to get it in before things really heat up, or try for early in the new year.
4. Surround yourself and your kids with healthy options.
We aren’t saying to avoid the candies and cookies full stop. However, when your home pantry and fridge are stocked with yummy healthy options making them more accessible; your kids will be eating better in general, at least while they’re at home. Being able to grab healthy snacks for on-the-go will also help you avoid those less healthy choices while you’re out and about that are sometimes made of desperation when you’ve got hungry kids who just can’t wait. Make those moments for the sweet treats even more special because they aren’t part of every moment of every day.
5. Give dental Christmas gifts.
Dental hygiene items will make great stocking stuffers for your kids, and even other people’s kids. Consider some fun toothbrushes of their favorite characters or colors and throw in some minty or cinnamon-flavored floss. A quick google search for floss flavors will yield other crazier flavors of floss such as: bacon, pickle, coconut, cupcake, pumpkin spice and so much more. Older kids might even get a kick out of an electric toothbrush. Promoting dental health can be seasonal too!
6. Drink water with fluoride.
Drink lots of water this holiday season, not only is it important to stay hydrated, but the fluoride in water will help your teeth fight against tooth decay. Try to stay away from sodas and juices when your kids are eating sweets and counteract their harmful effects on teeth by serving water to help wash away the sugars and acids.
7. Look for ways to make favorite holiday treats a bit healthier.
Can those holiday pastries or cookies be made with whole wheat flour instead of white flour? Can that cup of hot cocoa be made with milk, cocoa powder and just a bit of sugar instead of pouring in a pre-made packet or a couple spoon-fulls of chocolate syrup? The internet is your friend when it comes to altering recipes to healthier options or sugar substitutes. Take a look and see if you can find something that you can still feel good about while also pleasing the kids’ holiday expectations.
8. Keep the sweets intake close to mealtime.
According to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) in Saliva-Your Mouth’s Most Powerful Natural Defense Against Decay, your saliva is a serious powerhouse against plaque and tooth decay. They state:
“Saliva contains important elements such as bicarbonate, calcium, and phosphate. They not only neutralize plaque acids, but also help repair early tooth damage and decay.” That is a pretty great natural defense your body has. Eating those sweet treats during or right after mealtime when your saliva production is at its highest will ensure your body’s best defender is in the game when it counts the most.
9. Get off the non-stop sweet train.
Grazing on sweet treats all day long may be a savory delicious habit during the holidays, but the non-stop assault on your teeth can be incredibly damaging. Try to keep the sweet intake to one sitting, and then wash it down with water if brushing isn’t a practical option at that point in the day.
Giving your kids information about why it’s important to take care of their teeth instead of just telling them to do it can help them get on board with their oral hygiene. Also, lead by example! If you aren’t brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing once, and drinking lots of water, get started now! Help it be a happy dental Christmas and keep these nice teeth dental habits up throughout the year! On behalf of all of us here at Redwood Pediatric Dentistry, we wish you and your loved ones happy holidays!