Many kids look forward to the holidays all year, especially since there are so many delicious goodies around. Unfortunately, it’s also a time when pediatric dentists frequently hear, “My kid has a cavity” from parents. But don’t worry, you won’t have to turn into a total Scrooge to keep your child’s smile healthy! In fact, there are 5 simple tips you can use to keep sugar from taking such a toll on their teeth and help them stay cavity-free over the holidays.
1. Hydrate With Water, Not Soda or Juice
At this time of year, one easy way to balance all the sugary treats is simply not keeping soda or juice around the house. Water will do a better job of keeping your child hydrated while also washing away residual sugars in their mouth that contribute to cavities.
2. Minimize Snacking
Frequent snacking, especially when sugar is involved, is the perfect recipe for cavities. While many parents are aware of the amount of sugar their kids have, they forget to pay attention to how frequently they have it, which is just as important, if not more so!
Here’s a helpful phrase to keep in mind: “Sip all day, get decay.” Although it refers to sipping on sweet drinks, the principle also applies to nibbling on sugary foods as well. Encourage your kids to have their holiday treats in one sitting or as part of a meal, rather than snacking throughout the day.
3. Give Them Chew Sugar-Free Gum
For children over age 4, chewing sugar-free gum is a great way to prevent cavities after meals or snacks when you’re away from home. It stimulates salivary flow that washes away food and also neutralizes acids in the mouth that would otherwise cause tooth decay.
4. Maintain Good Oral Hygiene Habits
The holiday season is a busy time, but it’s extra important to encourage good brushing and flossing habits to counteract all the high-sugar foods. Kids over age 6 should also be using a fluoride mouthwash from the store (also called anti-cavity formula). This will strengthen their enamel and give them an added layer of cavity protection.
5. Schedule a Checkup With a Pediatric Dentist
Along with good habits at home, professional care is an essential part of keeping your child’s teeth healthy. By seeing a pediatric dentist for a checkup, you can find out if they have any cavities (and have them treated while they’re small), get their teeth professionally polished, and have a fluoride treatment done that will help their teeth stay cavity-free.
With these 5 tips, you won’t find yourself saying, “My kid has a toothache” this year. Instead, they’ll have a healthy smile the whole holiday season and well into the new year!
About the Author
As a father of four, Dr. Layne Benzley is a pediatric dentist who understands the struggles parents face with healthy food choices during the holidays. He always provides tips at this time of year to help kids enjoy sugar in moderation and maintain good oral health. If you’d like to know more about preventing holiday cavities or have any other questions, he can be reached via his website.