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Making sure sugar-filled holiday treats don’t lead to cavities for your children

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Your children made it through Halloween and all those sugary treats, and they made it through the sugar-filled baked goodies dished out during Thanksgiving. Now we want to help you prevent Christmas and Hanukkah cavities. “It is not too late to get your children on a good path to healthy teeth while keeping those cavities at bay,” said Dr. Lela Farmer of Scuba Smiles For Kids. Here are five, quick tips to help keep you children keep their teeth as healthy and bright as possible for the rest of the holiday season.

#1 Limit sugar intake

For adults, this may be common sense: cut down on sugar, and you reduce the chance of getting cavities. Children don’t think the same way, so it is up to us as parents to provide our children with snacks that are good for their teeth. Consider offering alternative snacks such as cheese and other dairy-based foods which help neutralize cavity-causing acids in the mouth. . Also fresh fruits, particularly apples,can satisfy a sweet tooth in a natural way.

#2 Say no to hard candies

Any kind of hard candy that your child will keep in their mouth for an extended period of time, such as candy canes or lollipops, keeps sugar in their mouth for a long period of time. Kids can spend hours at a time trying to eat those kinds of foods. “If you bathe your teeth in sugar for hours on end, and without proper hygiene habits, cavities are an obvious result,” said Dr. Farmer. If they insist on wanting something sweet, try to mix it up with candy that melts such as chocolate. 

# Eat candy after meals

“Proper timing of when your child eats sugary treats is a good way to reduce the risk of cavities” said Dr. Farmer. Saliva production increases during meals and cancels out much of the acid produced by bacteria in the mouth. That saliva also helps rinse away particles of food, including the sugar.

#4 Rinse with water

After eating sugary snacks, teach your child the importance of rinsing their mouth with water. “Rinsing with water will help get rid of the sugars and help protect their tooth enamel,” said Dr. Famer. Rinsing the mouth with water will also reduce plaque buildup. Additionally, your children -especially toddlers- should avoid drinks with sugar, such juice and soda, as these drinks increase the risk of tooth decay. 

#5 Brush and floss regularly

Adults often make New Year’s resolutions, so why not help your children with their own, by committing to brush and floss regularly. Make sure your child brushes their teeth at least twice a day. Dr. Farmer says, ““If your child is eating something sugary by itself as a snack, brushing their teeth right after is also a good idea.” Proper brushing will remove particles of the snack, including sugar, from the surface of the teeth. 

Help your child commit to these healthy teeth habits, and they won’t have to come out of the holiday season with cavities, and a bigger dental bill the next time you and your little loved ones have a visit to the dentist.