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Holiday Tips for Healthy Teeth


Submitted by Pediatric Smiles of Bloomington

Halloween marks the beginning of a two-month onslaught of sugary foods and drinks. In addition, the holiday season often means a change in routines and increased travel, which makes it challenging to keep up with good dental habits. To avoid starting off the New Year with a mouth full of cavities, here are some tips to keep everyone’s smile healthy, shiny, and bright this holiday season.

One of the biggest reasons for tooth decay is gobbling up too much sugar — and it’s in almost everything! Bacteria in the mouth use sugar to grow, multiply, and produce acids. The acids then begin to eat away at the tooth’s enamel (the hard outer surface), and over time, a cavity may form. It may be unrealistic to expect children to forego candy and treats all together, but you can minimize the negative effect of sugar by avoiding hard and sticky types of candy like caramels, gummy bears, peppermint sticks, suckers, and peanut brittle. These varieties stay on the teeth for a long time and are difficult to rinse away. M&Ms are a better choice because they melt away and are easy to brush or rinse off.

Apple cider, hot chocolate, or fruit punch are often part of holiday celebrations. Try to offer only water or milk and limit the amount of any other type of drink, including juice. For those times when children do eat candy, desserts, or sweet drinks, encourage them to at least swish some water afterwards. Sugarless gum can also be helpful. When possible, children should brush their teeth more often than twice a day if they’ve had more snacks than usual.

The holidays can be a good excuse to make tooth brushing more fun. While you’re doing your holiday shopping, let kids pick out a fun new toothbrush and some special toothpaste that you wouldn’t usually buy. There are also colored flossers available that kids like using. Go all out and buy a timer to help make sure that they are brushing long enough. Be careful, or you may never get them away from the sink!
Maintaining good oral health throughout the holidays doesn’t have to be hard. Always make sure that children (and adults) visit their dentist twice a year to detect any minor concerns before they become expensive problems. By taking a few extra precautions, children can indulge in some extra holiday treats and start the New Year with healthy smile.

Pediatric Smiles of Bloomington is a specialized dental office for children 0 to 18 and special-needs patients. They are located at 1112 Trinity Ln. in Bloomington and may be reached at 309-663-7339. Ask about their “No-Cavity Club” and the rewards kids may earn.