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child holding candy cane wearing santa hat

There is a strong chance that your child’s dreams at night are filled with visions of cookies, pies, and stockings stuffed with candy during the holiday season. As a kid, one of the best things about the holidays is all of the tasty treats and delicious foods we only eat t this time of year. You don’t have to be a complete Scrooge and deprive your child of their favorite goodies and sweets to keep their teeth healthy.

Minimize the damage the holidays can have on your kids’ teeth by following these helpful tips from the parents of Christmas past.

Why Is Sugar Bad For Your Teeth?

Sugar cookies, peppermint candy canes, and other holiday favorites are filled with sugar. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth feed on this sugar, and the byproduct is acid. This acid eats away at tooth enamel, which in turn leads to tooth decay and cavities. The more time teeth spend exposed to sugar, the higher the risk of developing dental problems.

Limiting Sugar Consumption

Hard candy is one of the worst holiday offenders at wreaking havoc on the health of your teeth. Because these sugary treats are sucked on over a long period, the teeth are coated in a sugar bath while eating them. Additionally, limit the amount of soda and juice that your children drink since these are also highly damaging to teeth and gums. Sugarless gum is a great way to keep your kids’ mouths washing away sugar while enjoying a tasty treat.

Always Brush After Eating Sugary Treats

If your child is going to have a sweet treat, it’s always recommended to follow the sugary snack with brushing their teeth. Make it a family affair and have everyone brush their teeth together. Creating a positive routine that involves everyone will help to teach your children the importance of oral health for the entire family. In general, the ADA recommends that teeth and gums be cared for at least twice a day for two minutes each time.

Pro-parent tip: If a toothbrush is not handy, the next best thing to do is have your child rinse. Encouraging your kids to rinse their mouths with water will help to wash away sugar, acids and any other food that may be stuck to their teeth.

Making Dessert Part of a Meal

Rather than waiting until the end of a meal to pass out dessert, include it with the rest of the meal. This may seem like an unconventional idea, but consuming sugar amongst more nutritious food items is actually better for your teeth. Consuming sugar with a regular meal will help to remove the sugar coating from the teeth. By reducing the amount of time sugar is in contact with the teeth, it negates the need to brush after finishing a meal immediately.

This may seem like a crazy idea to some parents who want to ensure that their children eat the more nutritious parts of the meal before rewarding with any sugar, but it’s better for your child’s teeth in the long run.

Making Brushing Fun

The holidays present a unique opportunity to make dental health fun. Routines are the foundation of maintaining excellent oral health. Here are a few fun ideas to make brushing more fun for your kids:

Christmas colored toothbrushes. Swap out their regular pink or blue brush for a festive red or green toothbrush.

Brushing buddy. Many dentists and parents advise introducing the importance of routine dental care at home to their child by getting them to care for their toys similarly. Give their brushing buddy their own mini toothbrush and play pretend to teach your child the importance of caring for teeth.

Experiment with toothpaste. Look for toothpaste specially made for children, which should be safe for accidental or intentional swallowing. Training toothpaste also is usually fluoride-free. Kids love trying out different brands, new flavors, and toothpaste that feature their favorite superhero. Consult with your child’s dentist before choosing a training toothpaste.

Schedule a Winter Break Exam

Last but not least, winter break in the school year is the perfect time to schedule a cleaning and checkup with Tompkins Dental. You can ask for any additional tips on how to keep your kids’ teeth healthy during the holiday season.

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