Christmas and New Year bring merry festivities filled with lots of desserts, soft drinks, and candy. We want you and your kids to have fun during the holidays, while also taking care of your oral health. That’s why at The Children's Dental Center, we came up with a few dental care tips for the Holiday season.
What Is Tooth Decay?
You don’t want your kids to think you are being cruel to them by restricting their candy. Let’s take a closer look at exactly why sugar and sweet drinks are harmful to oral health. The next time your little ones ask for extra candy, you are sure to have a response ready for them.
The bane of teeth is cavities. Our teeth are covered with a thin film called plaque, and various bacteria inhabit the plaque. When we eat or drink, the bacteria in our mouths break down carbohydrates, releasing various types of acids.
Sugar, in particular, causes bacteria to produce a lot of acid, which is harmful to the enamel. Enamel serves as a protective shield for our teeth, safeguarding them from harm. Just below the enamel, we find dentin, another crucial layer. Deeper within the tooth, at its core, resides the pulp. When acid erosion takes its toll on both enamel and dentin, the potential for harm extends to the sensitive pulp within the tooth. Since the pulp is full of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue, its exposure leads to toothaches. A damaged pulp may necessitate a pulpotomy.
Additionally, sugary drinks decrease the pH of our saliva. When the pH of saliva drops below 5.5, tooth enamel starts to break down.
Once enamel is damaged, it can’t grow back, which is why it is important to take preventative care. Here’s an overview of techniques you could use to protect your kids’ teeth from cavities.
Dental Care Tips for Christmas
To begin with, let’s explore some yummy alternatives to the popular Christmas desserts that aren’t all that healthy for our teeth.
While fruitcake is a beloved dessert on any Christmas table, it is not as healthy as it contains dried fruit. Dried fruits have a lot of sugar, which, as we saw earlier, is dangerous for the enamel. An amazing alternative to a fruitcake is a fruit crumble. It has less sugar and is not as sticky.
Sticky Sweets and Candies
These are especially damaging for the teeth, as the sweet residue gets stuck to the teeth, encouraging the bacteria to produce acid for longer. There is no need to give the bacteria a Christmas feast! Let’s take a look at some healthy alternatives.
Nuts, such as almonds, are high in protein and calcium, which makes them nutritious snacks.
Milk and cheese are great alternatives to sweets and candy. With a neutral acidity level, milk can provide lots of calcium, which your kids’ growing bones need so much. The same goes with cheese, which neutralizes the acidity levels in the mouth and neutralizes the acidity levels in the mouth and has that gorgeous umami taste.
If your kids love cookies, here are a bunch of healthier options:
● Gingerbread cookies with pumpkin for extra fiber.
● Oatmeal cookies that are high in fiber.
● Almond cookies that are high in protein and healthy fats.
Whenever you are baking cookies or cakes, consider lowering the amount of sugar and avoiding whipped cream or applesauce on top, as these are high in sugar.
You could also find lots of creative ideas for healthy snacks online that are also cute and will be a wonderful addition to your Christmas table. No kid can resist those adorable egg snowmen or black olive penguins!
Taking Care of Your Teeth
Now, let’s get to some dental care tips to keep your teeth safe during parties and festivities.
Don’t Use Your Teeth as Tools
If you need to open a bottle or a package, use an opener or scissors, not your teeth. Remember to instruct your kids to do the same. No one wants to get a chipped tooth during a Christmas celebration!
Don’t Brush Your Teeth Right after a Meal
You may be tempted to solve the problem of acid-producing bacteria by urging your child to brush their teeth immediately after a meal. Don’t do this! Brushing immediately after eating can damage the enamel. It is best to rinse the mouth first to neutralize the acidity of saliva and brush the teeth about half an hour or an hour later.
Avoid Candy Gifts
While you may be tempted to fill those Christmas socks with candy, there are plenty of other delightful gift options for you to consider. Some wonderful ideas include puzzles or board games, small toys, craft supplies, and, of course, books!
Remember to Follow Your Brushing Routine
Christmas is the time to stay up late, watching those magical lights all around and adoring those marvelous fireworks. Nevertheless, remember to brush your teeth at least two times a day. Also, flossing regularly helps prevent the build-up of plaque, which is the breeding ground for those acid-producing bacteria.
Dental Check-Up before and after Christmas
Remember that chipped tooth we mentioned? You don’t want any toothaches to ruin your Christmas season. It is a great idea to schedule a preventative dental appointment to catch any problems.
As much as we all want to keep our oral health intact, Christmas festivities may be just too tempting to resist. Regular dental check-ups help catch any problems with dental health early on. With the power of X-rays, we can spot the tell-tale signs of caries.