The holidays are a time filled with joy and wonder for children. But poor oral health from the holiday season festivity sweets and late nights can quickly put a damper on the season and lead to tooth decay.
By protecting your child’s oral health during the holidays, they’ll finish the season with healthy, white smiles. Staci Brunell, DMD, and Priyanka Patel, DMD, pediatric dentists at Yorktown Pediatric Dentistry in Yorktown Heights, New York, share these top tips for protecting your child’s oral health during the holidays.
Pediatric oral health during the holiday season
The holiday season carries a number of risks for your child’s oral health. During the holidays, your child will likely eat more sugary sweet treats and drinks that can contribute to tooth and gum decay.
With the busy pace of the season, it can also be easy to set oral health aside while trying to get through the long days. Here’s what you can do to preserve your child’s oral health this time of year.
Choose tooth-healthy sweets
Not all sweets are created equal, and some of your child’s favorite sweets are better for their teeth than others. Have your child try these delicious treats that are lower in sugar:
- Pumpkin pie
- Gingerbread cookies
- Oatmeal cookies
- Chocolate covered strawberries
- Dark chocolate
Your child can also enjoy dried or fresh fruit, nuts, and soft cheeses in moderation. All of these have fewer sugars than most sweet desserts.
Limit times for eating sugar
Sometimes, it can feel like sweets are everywhere during the holidays. There’s candy in the candy bowl at home and in social settings and holiday gatherings where you eat steadily throughout the day.
Instead of allowing your child to eat sweets all day, come up with set times when they can enjoy them. For example, let them enjoy a sweet after dinner or during, but not before or after, a holiday party.
Brush after eating sweets
In addition to keeping up your child’s regular brushing and flossing routine, it’s a good idea for them to brush their teeth more during the holiday season. Bring a toothbrush and toothpaste to events so your child can brush after eating sugary treats.
The ideal time to brush your child’s teeth is 30 minutes after eating sugar. This ensures you brush the potential decay on their teeth and gums rather than their own natural tooth acids.
Choose activities and presents that aren’t food
Instead of focusing the season entirely on eating sweets, consider activities your child enjoys for gifts and holiday gathering fun. Activities like games, books, knitting, crafts, and puzzles make fantastic stocking stuffers.
These options also give your family and friends an opportunity to connect and bond over a shared, healthy activity that doesn’t focus on food.
Maintain oral health routines
Neglecting oral health when you’re out late and tired when you get home can be easy. No matter what time it is when you get home from the party, make sure your child continues to brush and floss at least twice per day.
Furthermore, the holiday season is a great time to continue your child’s preventive dentistry. If they’re due for a dental cleaning, winter break is a great time to get one without your child missing any school.
With the right planning, your child can continue to enjoy the fun of the holiday season with their healthiest, brightest smile. To schedule a dental cleaning or another type of pediatric dentistry or orthodontic appointment, contact us today.