From Candy Canes to Cookies plus the shakeup in schedules, the holidays present a unique challenge for kids when it comes to consistent dental care. While it might be a no-brainer to avoid letting high sugar candies (like Candy Canes) hang out in the mouth for too long, there are simple strategies that can allow kids to still enjoy these holiday treats without causing major damage to their teeth!
We chatted with Dr. Zhu of Dental Associates about some top tips parents can try to help their kids stay on top of their dental health over the holiday season, how to introduce younger kids to visits to the dentist’s office, and even strategies for getting older kids to floss and brush regularly!
Holiday Dental Health Tips from Dental Associates
Enjoy Your Favorites in Moderation!
Dr. Zhu is a big dessert fan and loves all things chocolate, pumpkin pie, and lots of traditional holiday treats. However, some popular holiday goodies can be really tough on the teeth due to their high sugar content and texture and should be enjoyed minimally and paired with a lot of water (which can actually help dilute the sugars in your mouth!). Some of these troublesome treats include:
- Candy Canes
- Hard Candies
- Dried Fruits
Establish a Solid Dental Routine That Can Be Sustained Through the Wild Holiday Season
The best way to make sure kids are caring for their teeth when schedules get crazy is to get used to a solid routine at home before everything gets shaken up. Once bedtimes are thrown out of whack or travel comes into play, it can be all too easy to toss the routine out the window, but Dr. Zhu advises parents to stick to it!
How to Perfect the Teeth Cleaning Session
Even older kids like tweens and teens need occasional reminders about how to make sure they are cleaning their teeth thoroughly. If we’re being honest, we adults often need these same reminders! It can be all too easy to rush through brushing, skip flossing, or just omit the daily cleaning sessions all together! Dr. Zhu recommends these tips to help ensure a consistent, healthy cleaning routine:
- Floss BEFORE you brush!
- Kids rushing through their brushing? Try an electric toothbrush with a timer that turns off after two minutes or put their favorite 2-minute or so video on your phone for them to watch while they brush.
- Use your phone or smartwatch to set a reminder for yourself to go brush and floss in the evening about an hour before you would typically head to bed to try to avoid the whole “I’m too tired” excuse.
About Dr. Wendy Zhu
Wendy Zhu is a dentist in West Milwaukee who works with kids 12 years old and younger. She is a graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry class of 2016 and has made her Wisconsin her home. While she started her practice with adults of all ages, she loves helping kids feel comfortable at the dentist and making visits fun! Dr. Zhu believes in balance, which means teeth can be healthy even with the occasional sweet treat! In her spare time, she enjoys staying active, playing video games, and volunteering with animals.