The weather outside is frightful! Kids are accident-prone during the holidays, especially with the icy and snowy weather. Should they take a spill, make sure you are prepared for what to do in a dental emergency, which can be any traumatic injury to the mouth resulting in significant bleeding. In the event of a dental emergency, the first thing parents should do is call their pediatric dentist.
Too many sweets for your sweet tooth. There are many opportunities for children to load up on sweets during the holiday season, from candy canes to chocolates to cookies. Instead of eating small amounts of sugar throughout the day, have children eat their sweet treat(s) at one time and try to brush within 30 minutes (or rinse with water) – that way sugar is not consistently coating their teeth.
Leave the cookie eating to Santa and make healthier swaps. If possible, try switching out cookies and candies for better-for-you choices like fruit, nuts or cheese. If a sweet tooth cannot be satisfied, try dark chocolate instead of candy canes or sugary sweets.
Hot chocolate may be the drink of the season, but children should be drinking plenty of water as well. Water cleanses the mouth and produces saliva that deposits essential minerals to help build tooth enamel. Water is essential to wash away food particles and sugar.
Don’t be on the naughty list, help your children stop sucking on their thumbs! Long-term thumb sucking can interfere with the development of a child’s permanent teeth, and it can alter the size and shape of the palate, which could lead to needing braces or a retainer down the road.
Keep your teeth looking as white as snow. Snacking is at an all-time high during the holidays, so make flossing a priority once a day or even twice. Flossing is an important part of fighting tooth decay and gum disease. Children can begin flossing once two teeth are touching, or when all sides of a tooth cannot be cleaned by brushing alone.
Find your dental home for the holidays. The dental home is the ongoing relationship between the dentist and the patient and should be established no later than your child’s first birthday, or when their first tooth appears. Establishing a dental home with your pediatric dentist will ensure you are setting your children up for a lifetime of healthy oral health habits.
Consider the gift of dental health! Consider stocking stuffers that benefit dental hygiene, such as a cool toothbrush, a travel-size dental kit or flavored floss.
Slow down on the starches. Mashed potatoes are a staple of any holiday table, but did you know that cooked starches can lead to cavities just as sugar can? Brushing your children’s teeth after a savory meal is just as important as brushing them after a sweet treat. In fact, cooked starches such as breads, crackers, pasta and potato chips often take longer to clear the mouth than sugars.
If you’re traveling to Grandma’s house for the holidays, be sure that your children have all the right brushing supplies when you hit the road, such as their toothbrush, tooth paste and floss.
Don’t forget about your teeth during the holiday season. The holidays can bring about new routines and disruptive schedules for little ones, so it’s especially important to help your children keep up his/her dental routine. A good dental routine includes brushing twice daily, ideally after breakfast and before bedtime.
Start the New Year off right with healthy teeth and gums by setting dental hygiene goals for 2020. Whether it be flossing twice a day, brushing teeth for longer or curbing a sweet tooth, no goal is too small!