(BPT) - It’s no secret, the holidays are a sweet time of year with seemingly endless sugary snacks, drinks and desserts. That, coupled with a long break from school can mean grazing in-between meals is at an all-time high for families across the nation. Thankfully, there are a few simple steps during holiday meals and get-togethers to minimize damage to your children’s teeth and gums to ensure the mouth monsters (a.k.a. tooth decay) don’t take away from your favorite holiday traditions. Dr. Jeannie Beauchamp, president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, shares her top teeth tips to help your family enjoy the magic of the holiday season and still have a cavity-free smile for family photos.
- Schedule (or reschedule) those dental appointments over the holidays: Like many other medical appointments, pediatric dental check-ups have been pushed off during the pandemic, causing cavity-prone kids. Dr. Beauchamp has noticed an increase in cavities, tooth decay and longer cleaning times in patients. Preventive dental appointments not only catch compromised teeth but offer children educational reinforcement on proper dental cleaning and habits. Leaving cavities untreated can result in larger, lasting health issues. Consider scheduling your children’s dental check-ups over the holidays when kids are off school and have more downtime.
- Teeth are NOT present openers: Teeth make for excellent tools when it comes to eating, drinking and enunciating. But spare those tiny teeth when it comes to opening packages, snacks or presents. This can lead to weakened enamel and expensive and painful repairs, which certainly are not wanted during the holidays.
- Avoid constant snacking: Snacking can feel endless over the holidays but it’s important to limit in-between meal snacking to prevent unwanted wear and tear on teeth that can cause the tooth enamel to weaken and lead to tooth decay or cavities. Dr. Beauchamp also warned, many children might have fallen into a pattern of grazing throughout the day due to digital learning and encourages families to set boundaries when snacking.
- Keep a routine: The holidays are certainly a hectic time and it’s easy for routines to become difficult to follow — make brushing and flossing a priority and ensure kids brush thoroughly for two minutes at least twice a day. Keeping a routine means preventive dental appoints as well, shared Dr. Beauchamp. With regular pediatric dental appointments, there are fewer dental emergencies.
- Water, water, water! Drinking water in between meals encourages saliva, washes away bacteria/food debris, and neutralizes plaque acids. This includes drinking fluoridated water, proven to keep teeth strong and reduce cavities.
With a bit of extra attention, your children’s smiles will make it through the festivities unscathed. For more information about children’s oral health or to find a pediatric dentist in your area, visit mychildrensteeth.org.