Candy canes, mince pies, Terry’s chocolate oranges… Typically for children, Christmas is about presents, and a serious sugar hit under the guise of “ah, but it’s Christmas”. But while the Yuletide celebrations are fun for all, it’s not a good time for your oral health.
Letting children enjoy themselves but finding a compromise could benefit your child’s oral health in the short and long term. (And remember, it’s not just children this applies to…)
The Oral Health Foundation in the UK urges parents and children to find a compromise that will not leave their oral health in a ghastly state.
Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, says: “It is better for children to eat sugary foods all together, rather than to spread eating them out. The trick is to find a middle ground. If you want to give your child the odd sugary treat it is best kept for mealtimes and they need to keep up their regular dental health routine.
“Every time we eat or drink anything sugary, our teeth come under an acid attack for up to one hour. Saliva plays a major role in neutralising the acid in the mouth, although it takes up to an hour for the acidity levels in the mouth to be neutralised. If sweets are constantly being eaten, your teeth and mouth are constantly under attack and do not get the chance to recover. That is why one of our key messages is to cut down on how much and how often you have sugary foods and drinks.”
Our top tips for a tooth-friendly festive season :
- Keep cakes and chocolate to mealtimes only to reduce the amount of time teeth are exposed to them.
- Make sure your child does not eat sugary treats one hour or less before bedtime, as they could risk brushing off enamel from their teeth which has been weakened by an acid attack.
- Supervise brushing their teeth with a fluoride toothpaste before they go to bed. Brushing last thing at night is important as the mouth produces less saliva overnight.
- Offer sugar-free treats such as cheese, nuts or breadsticks as they are healthy alternative and do not cause tooth decay.