The holiday season brings with it a healthy dose of wholesome family fun and without a doubt, food plays a major role this time of year.
From the sweet treats of Halloween to the desserts enjoyed on Thanksgiving and Christmas, eating meals with family and friends is integral to how we celebrate. But, there’s always room for caution in the midst of all the celebrations.
For example, while enjoying all of this great food, are you and your family keeping up with important daily oral hygiene? No one wants to see holiday treats come back to haunt their oral health down the road. Here are some quick tips to help make sure your family’s teeth are protected during this fun, busy time.
With all of the excitement and hectic schedules surrounding the holidays, it’s easy to lose track of simple habits that are otherwise well maintained through the year. To make sure your child’s teeth don’t suffer, post a fun sticky note on the bathroom mirror, reminding them to brush and floss their teeth.
And reminders don’t have to stop there. How about a note in their school lunch box with a stick of sugarless gum attached so they can chew it right after lunch? Or a surprise toothbrushing race on a Saturday afternoon?
It’s not only children who need reminders. As busy adults, the holidays can take a toll on our health. Remembering to brush, floss, use mouthwash, and book the next dental appointment can be challenging. Try writing out important health to-dos on a calendar, or setting up digital reminders on your phone to stay on track. Whatever can ensure teeth are getting thoroughly cleaned at least twice a day is a step in the right direction.
Set limits with holiday treats
Of course, during the holidays, families get more than their normal share of sweet treats. But be careful to limit candy, sugary drinks, and desserts during the holiday season.
For children, an example of an important limit could be no candy in bed. Not only does candy present a choking hazard if they fall asleep with a piece still in their mouth, but leaving sugar on their teeth for hours at night can have a very negative impact on their oral health. In fact, tooth decay is caused by bacteria feeding on sugar in the mouth and producing acid as a byproduct.
That’s why every night should end with a thorough toothbrushing before bed, without eating anything else after their teeth have been brushed.
For adults, remember that moderation around the holidays is key. While enjoying a slice of pie or a seasonal flavored latte is more common this time of year, keep these treats special by being thoughtful about when to indulge.
Soda or hot chocolate might be more readily available options at holiday parties, so make a point of encouraging your children and adult family members to drink plenty of water during these months when they’ll be eating more sweets.
Water naturally cleans our mouths, and staying hydrated can also boost natural defenses against bacteria, tooth decay, and gum disease.
Some parents have found setting up a 1:1 rule for beverages works well. Their child can have a serving of soda, juice, sweet tea, or hot chocolate for every 8 oz cup of water they drink in a day. However, if stuck between two options, water always comes first.
Make it fun
For children, sometimes all it takes to help establish and maintain good habits is to make it fun for them to do so. There are lots of options out there for different shapes, styles, and colors of toothbrushes, and plenty of options in toothpaste as well. For some kids, an electric toothbrush may be the perfect tool to keep them interested.
To include the whole family, consider making a game of brushing and flossing, set it to music, or do it right along with them while they’re getting ready for bed.
Plan for the next dental visit
Based on the potential for more damage from sweets during the holiday season, it’s an optimal time to visit the dentist before, during, or just after the holidays come to a close.
Although the holiday season tends to include some hefty expenses for parents, getting regular needed dental care for you and your family doesn’t need to be hurt your wallet. Many people have found that a dental discount plan offers the perfect combination of savings and convenience to promote good oral health without breaking the bank.
While these tips can work all year to help your family take good care of their teeth, they’re especially important during the holiday season when people are likely to be eating more sugary treats than usual. Prepare now to make sure your family’s oral health is preserved during this busy and joyous time of year.
Author: Kim Sharbatz, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Dental Solutions