Our top 5 tips for healthy teeth in the school holidays
School holidays can be the time for kids to stay up late, visit the grandparents and go to birthday parties. This can be fun for kids, but problematic for their teeth. Party food is often high in sugar; grandparents love to spoil grandkids with cakes and sweets; and sometimes we forget to brush our teeth when we lose our daily routine. Read on for our tips to navigating the holidays with sweet-toothed kids.
1. Create a toothbrushing calendar
Holidays are a great time to introduce a brushing calendar. A brushing calendar allows your little one to mark off his/her brush every morning and evening. We recommend using stickers to mark each completed brush to help create a sense of progress and accomplishment. You can also set a reward for successfully completing the chart. This can work wonders for kids who need a little encouragement.
2. Avoid brushing soon after sweet or acidic food and drink
When you have food or drink that is sweet or acidic (such as citrus fruit, soft drink or sweets), some of the mineral is stripped from your teeth. This makes the teeth “soft” for a little while after your food or drink. If you brush your teeth while they are still soft from acid or sugar, it is easier for the brushing to damage the tooth enamel. A good alternative is to simply rinse with water and brush before bedtime.
3. Practise flossing (the string, not the dance move)
On slow mornings, without the rush to go to school, it’s a great time for kids to try flossing. We find dental decay in children often starts between the teeth, where the toothbrush can’t reach. Floss sticks can make it very easy for kids to remove the plaque that causes this type of decay.
4. Encourage kids to have any sweet food or drink during ‘treat time’
Here is a little known fact: with tooth decay, the most importing contributing factor is not the amount of sugar consumed, but the amount of time sugar spends in contact with the teeth. If your child sips on soft drink or fruit juice over long period, this results in a much longer exposure to the sugar in the drink. We recommend that kids have any sweet food or drink in one go and sip on water for the rest of the time. This will help to keep kids hydrated and limit exposure to sugar and acid.
5. Book a family dental check-up
If your little ones have not been to the dentist in the last 6 months, it’s time to book in. The dentist can check the health and development of the teeth and jaw bones. This way any issues will be detected early and kids can start on a path to healthy habits and a healthy mouth.