From candy canes to apple pie to Christmas cookies, there are so many sweet treats that are associated with the holiday season. While these foods may taste delicious, all of that sugar can really wreak havoc on your child’s teeth. You can’t expect to ban your child from eating sweets altogether during the holidays, but there are steps you can take to help minimize any damage to their teeth and gums. Here’s how to prevent cavities during the holiday season.
Limit Sugar Intake
The simplest way of how to prevent cavities is simply to limit your child’s sugar intake. Of course, this is always easier said than done. Try offering your child snacks that are good for their teeth alongside sugary snacks. Or give your child a small plate, and tell them that they can only have the snacks that fit on that dish. If you’re able to reduce their sugar intake even just a little bit, it can go a long way towards preventing cavities.
You can help reduce your child’s sugar intake by offering them snack alternatives. Cheese and other dairy-based snacks can help neutralize acids from other foods. Fresh fruits like apples can satisfy your child’s sweet tooth in a natural way. Crunchy veggies like carrots another healthy options.
Think About How Long You’re Eating
When giving your child a treat this holiday season, consider how long it will be in their mouth. For example, a candy cane that your child will suck on will take much longer to eat than a Christmas cookie. Even if your child scarfs down several cookies and a piece of pie, they’ll spend just a few minutes eating those as opposed to the hours it can take to finish a candy cane.
An important step in how to prevent cavities is taking eating time into account: the longer the teeth are exposed to sugar, the more damage the sugar can do to teeth. Stay away from hard candies that remain in the mouth for long periods of time, and instead give your child snacks that are eaten immediately.
Make Dessert Part of the Meal
Serving dessert along with dinner is one way of how to prevent cavities; it can help prevent sugar from lingering on your child’s teeth and causing plaque buildup. The longer the sugar remains on your child’s teeth, the more damage it will do. Eating sugary desserts as the last course in the meal means that sugar will be the last thing that your child eats, and it will linger on their teeth.
To help prevent the negative effects of sugar, serve dessert with the rest of the holiday meal. Eating other foods and drinks along with sweet treats can help prevent sugar from sticking to teeth. Other foods like cheese and milk contain compounds that can help neutralize acids, which can help combat tooth decay.
Rinse with Water
If your child is snacking on sweets, making sure they have a drink in hand as well. Drinking water alongside snacks can help rinse the sugar off of teeth, reducing the risk for plaque buildup. Avoid drinks like juices and soda that have added sugar that will only increase the risk for tooth decay. If your child wants something other than water, milk is another tooth-healthy option. Since it’s basic, it can help neutralize acids from acidic foods that can damage teeth.
Brush After Eating
One of the most obvious but most effective cavity prevention tips is to have your child brush their teeth after eating sugary snacks. Your child should already be brushing twice a day, but it can be prudent to encourage your child to brush even more often than usual during the holiday season. Proper tooth brushing will help remove particles of the sugary snacks that get stuck on the surfaces of teeth or in between them. If these particles aren’t removed, they become a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause tooth decay and cavities. Teaching your child how to prevent cavities via proper tooth brushing is the first line of defense.
However, it’s important to note that your child shouldn’t brush their teeth immediately after eating. It’s best to wait at least a half an hour after eating before brushing. Right after your child eats sugary snacks, the acids from foods make teeth sensitive and vulnerable. Brushing teeth too soon after eating means that softened enamel can be scrubbed away from tooth brushing. After a half hour, the enamel will harden again and it will be safe to brush.
Schedule a Dentist Visit
Visiting the dentist twice each year if one of the best ways of how to prevent cavities. If your child is due for a dental visit, post-holidays is a great time to make an appointment. Since children often have time off from school during the holiday season, it’s a very convenient time to make an appointment. Getting your child in for a routine teeth cleaning can also help mitigate the effects of all that sugar they may have consumed over the holidays. Your dentist may also recommend fluoride treatments as another line of defense in how to prevent cavities.
It’s hard to resist eating sweets during the holiday season. Luckily, there are lots of cavity prevention tips that can help protect your child’s teeth from the harmful effects of all that extra sugar. You can’t expect your child to avoid indulging altogether, so instead, teach them healthy ways of how to prevent cavities after snacking. Limiting sugar intake, rinsing with water, and brushing after eating are great first line defenses, but be sure to include regular teeth cleanings in your child’s repertoire. After the holidays, make sure to contact Children’s Dentistry, and our dentist will help keep those cavities at bay.