The festive season between Halloween and winter holidays is often accompanied by a surge of sugary treats and drinks, especially for children. When sugar mixes with bacteria in the mouth it forms a mild acid that can damage tooth enamel and lead to decay. The longer and more frequently children have sugar in their mouths, the more their teeth are at risk. Your family or pediatric dentist can help you plan for the season and incorporate dental care for children into your holiday routine. Below are a few suggestions to get started.
Healthy Holiday Tips
- Plan a trade: A few weeks after Halloween or other seasonal parties where candy is given out, offer your children a swap where they can trade leftover candy for something like a small toy or activity.
- Set expectations: Talk to your children about expectations for treats. What will be the treats-per-day limit?
- Try to only eat treats with meals: Set a good example by making it a habit to enjoy a small treat after a meal when you are feeling full, or set a regular treat time to limit snacking. Encourage children to drink water in between meals to rinse out the mouth.
- Brush and floss, especially after eating sticky candy: Treats can get stuck in between teeth and cause tooth decay. Be sure children’s teeth are always cleaned at the end of the day and that children don’t sleep with sugar in their mouths.
- Start new traditions: Show your children there is more to holiday activities than candy by enjoying new activities, crafts, and quality time with family and friends.
Guidelines for Keeping Children’s Teeth Clean
Dental care for children includes cleaning and checking the teeth on a daily basis. Check along the gum line and watch for white or brown spots which may be early signs of tooth decay.
For babies, gently clean the mouth with a soft cloth or infant toothbrush. When teeth start to come in, use a small amount of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice. For toddlers, you can increase the amount of toothpaste to the size of a pea.
Dentistry for Children
Experts recommend that you bring you children in to see the family dentist by their first birthday. Benefits of early dental care include:
- Making sure the oral care you’re doing at home is working.
- Detecting problems early.
- Showing children that going to the dentist is not scary and is part of regular preventative care.
Speak to your family dentist to learn more about caring for your children’s teeth during the holidays and all year round.