There’s enough to worry about around the holidays. Do you really want to deal with cavities, too?
But in the hustle and bustle of holiday life, oral health can be last on the list. And with holiday parties in full swing, stockings full of candy, and cookie decorating galore, it’s easy for teeth to bear the brunt of all the holiday revelry.
Cavities in children don’t have to be serious, but they do lay the groundwork for future issues. Seeing a Chicago pediatric dentist can keep your child’s teeth healthy, as well as form healthy habits and help allay any fears of holiday-related tooth decay.
Getting a good cleaning before the holidays or just after can also help mitigate any damage the holidays wreak on your little one’s pearly whites.
So what does your local Chicago Pediatric Dentist have to say about holiday cavity prevention? Keep reading to find out.
Watch the Sweets
We know you hear it every year. But the holidays are sugar heavy. Cookies, sweets, and candy enough to rival Halloween.
Sugar is rough on teeth, especially in the huge quantities seen in the winter months. And it makes sense. When winter is in full swing and you’re stuck inside against the snow and dark, a little sugar seems like a welcome reward.
And while sugar is ok in moderation, it’s important to set limits. One cookie rather than three, water instead of juice, and limiting candy intake.
This is not only going to keep your child’s teeth healthy but will keep the rest of them healthy as well. Too much sugar can disrupt sleep, GI function, and brain function. And no one wants a cranky toddler at the Christmas party.
Don’t Forget the Toothbrushes
With all the holiday travel, you’re going to forget something at some point. Do your best to make sure it isn’t the toothbrushes.
It’s easy to say “just this once” when kids are already going to bed late and in the midst of the busyness of the season. But keep in mind all the extra sugar coating their teeth this month. It isn’t worth it.
And don’t let your kiddos brushing habits fall by the wayside while you visit family. For one thing, it will make their breath very unpleasant. And for another, letting those good habits slide may make them more careless in the future.
Instead, make sure to keep as close to your normal at-home habits as possible, brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
Stick to Water
Milk and Cookies! Sparkling Grape Juice! Apple Cider! Hot Chocolate!
Along with all the sweet treats, sugary drinks dominate the month of December. And in moderation, that’s fine. Who doesn’t love a cup of hot chocolate next to a sparkling tree?
But other than those few special moments, have your child stick to water. Not only will it help rinse away sugar buildup, but it will help limit their intake in general.
Give Hard Candies a Pass
We know, grandma is always carrying these in her purse, but they really do more harm than good.
No matter how you consume them, they are bad news for your teeth and enamel. Sucking on a hard candy lets that damaging sugar sit on your teeth for an extended time and produces acid that harms your enamel. If you bite hard candy, you can risk cracking teeth or pulling out fillings.
Just say no to these guys, if you can. They are better for decorating the gingerbread house, anyway.
Watch the Clock
Sweets are best consumed with or just after meals.
When you are already eating, your saliva production goes up and helps to negate the effects of harmful bacteria.
You also want to be careful of sweets too close to bedtime. Sugar and bacteria left on the teeth overnight can spell huge problems down the line.
Get In For a Checkup with Your Chicago Pediatric Dentist
Before the holidays, schedule your little one for an appointment with a pediatric dentist.
A check-up and cleaning can help you start the holidays off the right way, making sure teeth are clean and healthy and identifying any problem areas. Your dentist may also put a sealant on your child’s teeth, helping protect those chompers against plaque and stray food that careless brushers may not always catch.
Going in for an exam before the holidays will also give your dentist a baseline for your child’s teeth, so if you do let the holidays get the better of you and your children end up with a few tooth issues after the holidays, your dentist will be familiar with the little mouth in front of them.
Your child will also be more comfortable if they have already seen the dentist than if they’re the first time meeting them is to have a cavity filled.
You Don’t Have to be the Grinch to Avoid Cavities in Children
“Christmas is for the children!”
And it is. It’s an amazing, magical time for kids across the country. So we aren’t suggesting that you put a moratorium on all sugar for the duration of the season. That isn’t realistic, and it isn’t much fun, either.
Just remember to keep up with healthy brushing habits, limit sugar and sweets (without banning them outright), and help your children make healthy choices this December.
And before the season is in full swing, get in to see your Chicago pediatric dentist. Avoiding cavities in children doesn’t have to kill the holiday spirit.
For more on keeping your little one’s teeth healthy and clean, contact us today!