Chances are good that visions of cookies, desserts and candy canes may be dancing in your children's heads this holiday season. While you will do what you can to limit their intake of these sugary treats, your kids will probably be eating their fair share of sugar at your family holiday parties. Despite their consumption of sugar, there are ways to keep your kids' healthy teeth and gums in shape and to minimize damage to their dental health.
Why Is Sugar Bad for Dental Health?
Whether your kids are eating chocolate cake, sugar cookies or peppermint candy, they are ingesting sugar. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth feed on this sugar, and the byproduct is acid. This acid can eat away at tooth enamel, which can lead to tooth decay and cavities. The more time teeth spend exposed to sugar, the higher the risk that your children will face dental health problems. Hard candies, and sticky candies such as taffy and caramel, can be worse for teeth than other treats such as cake and cookies.
Brush after Eating a Sugary Treat
In general, the ADA recommends that everyone brush their teeth and gums at least twice a day for at least two minutes each time. Flossing should also be done at least once a day. During the holidays, encourage your kids to brush and floss even more than this, particularly right after they finish dessert. If a toothbrush is not handy, the next best thing to do is rinse. Encourage your kids to rinse their mouths with water ó not soda or even sparkling grape juice ó which will help wash away sugar, acids and any other food that may be stuck to their teeth.
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The remainder of the article details the following:
- Limit Sugar Time
- Make Dessert a Part of the Meal
- Make Toothbrushing Fun
- Schedule a Dentist Visit