It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but with all the candy, cookies, and sugary treats around during the holiday season, it might not be the most wonderful time of year for your child’s dental health. While you probably cannot (and don’t want to) prevent your kids from eating any and all sugar, there are some ways you can minimize the damage from all of these treats during and after the holidays, and help teach your children some good habits for lifelong dental health.
1: Brush Often
Sugar and candy can easily get stuck between teeth and in the grooves and crevices of the molars, and bacteria in your child’s mouth feeds on sugar, converting them to acids that wear down the protective enamel around the tooth. While you should still continue to brush and floss your child’s teeth for 2 minutes in the morning and 2 minutes before bed, you can add an additional brushing between those times after your child consumes a lot of sugar, candy, or treats. Also don’t forget to floss, since your toothbrush cannot effectively reach the space between your teeth.
2: Avoid Sticky Treats
All sugars are not created equal when it comes to your dental health and the holidays. While all sugars can be bad for your teeth, there are some candies that are worse than others. Candy or treats that are sticky can be more harmful because they can easily get stuck in the grooves of your child’s molars or in between teeth, where they can be harder to remove. These might include things like caramel, taffy, peanut brittle, toffee, and similar treats.
3: Consume Treats Right After Meals
If you are going to eat sugary foods, the best time to do so is right after you eat a meal. During a meal your mouth produces more saliva, which can help clean your teeth by washing away sugar consumed right after the meal. While it’s not a perfect solution to prevent any and all tooth decay, it’s one option to help reduce the negative effects of sugar on your child’s teeth.
4: Avoid “Grazing”
Whether you’re holiday party, hanging out at grandma and grandpa’s house, or just spending time at home during the holidays, food and sugary treats are often all around us during the holiday season. It can be tempting to “graze” on these foods, eating just small amounts at a time, for several hours or throughout the entire day. This is bad for yours and your child’s teeth because it exposes them to sugar constantly throughout the day, feeding the bad bacteria in your mouth and wearing down teeth enamel.
If your holiday seasons are filled with sugar and treats, be sure to take steps to limit the damage for you and your children by taking some simple steps for better dental health.