Halloween is over, and you may be thinking once the candy is gone, fears for your kids’ teeth are gone as well. Home free, right? Think again. Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner, and along with the holidays come sweets galore.
Nothing epitomizes Thanksgiving and Christmas more than the foods associated with each holiday. There are pumpkin, pecan, apple and berry pies, candied sweet potatoes, sweetened cranberry sauce and relish and nuts galore. And don’t forget all those Christmas cookies, fudge, divinity and peanut brittle.
All Is Not Lost
This is a good time of year to teach the tots and remind the teens about healthy practices that will protect their teeth. These are things to practice all year long, of course, but you can start a new tradition using the holidays to teach your kids how to keep their teeth healthy.
Keep Them Hydrated
Be sure the kids drink plenty of water. Not only is it good to keep them hydrated, water–instead of juice, sodas and punch–will help wash the sugar from their teeth. Bottled water typically doesn’t contain fluoride. Instead, let them pick out their own water container and fill it from the tap. Another bonus is fewer empty plastic bottles in landfills.
Banning sweets isn’t likely to work, since they are sure to be available from friends, school or even Grandma. Instead, make sure your kids brush twice a day for at least two minutes each time, and don’t let them forget to floss. Avoid sweets or sweetened beverages right before bed to prevent sugar from staying on their teeth while they sleep.
Teeth Are Not Tools
Kids tend to think teeth are indestructible and handy tools for a number of uses. Be sure your kids know the wisdom of using the proper tool for the job. The job of a nut cracker is to crack nuts. The job of their teeth is to chew that nut once it’s out of the shell. Likewise, teeth are not the proper tools for opening bottles, or even packages; that’s what bottle openers and scissors are for, respectively. Many a chipped or cracked tooth has needed an expensive repair after just such a misuse.
A preventive measure to discuss with your dentist is dental sealants. Deep crevices in the chewing surfaces of a healthy tooth can trap food particles and lead to cavities. Sealants can be a safe and effective measure to seal the natural fissures in primary and secondary molars.
Using these tips can ensure your kids will enjoy good food and holiday cheer without detrimental effects to their teeth. You and your children can have a happy, healthy and joyous Thanksgiving and Christmas.
If you would like to discuss your children’s dental needs and preventive options, we would be happy to help you with that. Contact Gallatin Valley Pediatric Dentistry for children ages 0-18.