Take the fright out of holiday candy with these oral care tips.
It’s hard to find a child that doesn’t love holidays—especially one’s that are accompanied with heaps of candy and treats, like Halloween, Valentine’s Day and Easter.
But with tooth decay the most common chronic childhood disease, it is important to teach your child early about the damage that too much candy can inflict on their teeth and gums and what you can both do to help prevent it.
Every time we eat, bacteria interact with our food to produce acids that attack teeth, leading to decay. The more sugar, the more acid that gets produced, which is why sugary, sticky foods and beverages are more likely to create decay. This is especially true between meals, when the mouth produces less saliva to combat and neutralize the acids, allowing them to do more damage.
Here are some simple ways to combat the effects of sugar on your kid’s oral care:
- Save treats like candy, cookies and pies for after mealtime since this is when the amount of saliva produced in the mouth is greater and will therefore better help protect your child’s teeth.
- Dairy acts as a buffer to the acids produced by oral bacteria, decreasing the possibility of tooth decay. So consider serving your children milk or cheese with holiday candies and treats.
- Hard candy can get stuck between kids’ teeth, which can cause cavities. Flossing can help remove the candy particles. Try flossers adorned with your child’s favorite character to help make flossing fun.
- To help pace the amount of candy your child is consuming around holidays like Halloween and Easter, store excess candy in a sealed container and establish set times when your child can have a treat.
- Encourage children to drink more water to help prevent tooth decay. If you choose bottled water, check the label for fluoride content. According to the American Dental Association, fluoridated water can reduce the number of cavities children get in their baby teeth.
ODA Says Easter Sweets Can Still be a Treat; from the Ontario Dental Association, April 2009; last updated September 16, 2009.