The Holiday Season has arrived! We love the Holidays here at Dental Town, after all it’s a festive time of fun, family, and delicious food!
There is a major threat to having a good holiday season, however. It isn’t the Abominable Snowman or the Grinch; the real threat is bad oral hygiene! Granted, we are a dental office so you would expect us to say that, but no one wants to take an emergency run to the dentist because they broke their tooth on a candy cane or discover they have a cavity on New Year’s Day.
With that in mind, here are a few simple (and even fun) ways you can help ensure your family have healthy teeth this Holiday Season.
Enjoy cookies the right way
First, bake cookies and desserts with less sugar. For instance, did you know that gingerbread cookies and almond cookies call for significantly less sugar than most other holiday treats?
And if you really aren’t into cookies, but still want to enjoy dessert, we recommend pumpkin pie. It’s a popular dish, and it’s also one of the healthiest pies out there (as long as you avoid a huge scoop of whipped cream). For more healthy dessert options, check out this article on Healthy Holiday Snacks.
Second, you need to consider when you eat cookies. The best time to enjoy any dessert is along with a meal. During the holidays, however, most people tend to grab cookies, pastries, candy, and anything else that happens to be lying around throughout the entire day (or week).
The is a problem because it introduces sugar into your mouth throughout the whole day, which leads to tooth decay. It’s much better to eat dessert with a meal because people typically have more water at mealtimes (which helps wash away the sugar) and they produce more saliva (which also helps wash away the sugar).
And lastly, avoid those late night cookies. Santa might like them in the middle of the night, but if your children eat a cookie after brushing their teeth and then go to bed, all that sugar will get to just sit in their mouth, causing bacteria to grow and teeth to decay.
Consider the stocking stuffers
Hard candy, in particular candy canes, is a popular stocking stuffer this time of year. Hard candy, however, can cause all kinds of problems for your teeth. First, they contain sugar, which as we said above causes tooth decay. Since hard candy gets to stick around inside your mouth for so long, it provides sugar plenty of time to expedite tooth decay.
Hard candies are also problematic because everyone eventually wants to bite them, but our teeth weren’t made to chew through hard candy. Biting candy canes and similar treats can chip a tooth and cause instant damage. And don’t forget, most kids (and some adults) love licking their candy cane to create a sharp point, which can easily cut or hurt their gums.
But just because hard candy isn’t great doesn’t mean you have to avoid stockings this year. Here are several great alternatives:
– Give the peppermint taste of candy canes in the form of sugar free gum with the ADA stamp of approval. Chewing gum stimulates saliva flow, which in turn cleans the mouth and helps fight tooth decay.
– Give some fruit, and make it a tradition! We know many families who give oranges or grapefruits every year in the stocking. Fruit is tasty, and making it a tradition adds to the fun.
– Include a cool, new toothbrush. Granted, this probably isn’t on your child’s wish list, but a toothbrush easily fits into a stocking and should be replaced every three months, which means your child is probably due!
– If you must give some candy, we encourage chocolate, especially dark chocolate. Unlike hard or sticky candy, chocolate doesn’t get stuck on your teeth for long periods of time. Dark chocolate, in particular, is low on sugar and some studies indicate that it can even improve oral health.
If you want to learn more about holiday candy that should be avoided this holiday season, check out our post on the top 5 candies kids should avoid.
Imitate Rudolph and Hermey the Elf
Santa’s love of cookies might not be the best example, but fortunately, Rudolph and Hermey the Elf can help out.
If you leave cookies and milk for Santa, don’t forget about the reindeer like Rudolph! Reindeer love carrots, which are of course nutritious and won’t cause tooth decay. Leave some carrots out for Rudolph (and the other eight reindeer), and then you can make eating carrots fun for the kids. Don’t forget to invite your kids to do their best reindeer impression while they eat their carrots.
And of course, there is Hermey the Elf, who became famous for wanting to be a dentist in the holiday special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It seems like Hermey’s dreams have finally come true because he has teamed up with the ADA to make dental care fun for kids this holiday season. Visit Hermey’s Mouth Healthy Holiday workshop to print Hermey’s Holiday Brushing Chart, take the healthy teeth quiz, make holiday cards, and more.
Don’t forget to visit the Dentist
One of the best ways to keep your kids’ teeth healthy this holiday season is to visit the dentist. Your dentist can ensure those teeth stay clean after all the holiday treats, and can also check to make sure there are no threats to long-term dental health.
If you’re in the North Atlanta area and looking for a dentist, Dental Town has offices in Johns Creek, Canton, Alpharetta, and Forsyth. We specialize in both pediatric dentistry and dental care for adults and love meeting new patients. And don’t worry, a trip to Dental Town won’t be a nightmare before (or after) Christmas – our offices provide fun environments and kids love coming to visit! Contact us today to schedule your next appointment.