It’s here – that magical time in our children’s lives when all seems right with the world, and they brim with anticipation over what goodies may be headed their way over the holidays.
Even in this uniquely trying year, there is something so warming and reassuring about this ultimately festive season, especially when seen through the eyes of a child. Think back to when you were a kid and the happy recollections likely come flooding in – of time spent with family, the food and, of course, the presents.
And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with spoiling your kiddos a bit during the holidays, you should remember that the gifts they receive can also act as a way to set them up for better health in the new year to come – and, yes, that goes for their oral hygiene too.
While it may not be anywhere near the top of their wish list, you might be surprised how much impact the right gift can have on your kid’s oral health. And just because they don’t “ooh and aah” over it does not mean it will not be put to good use. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some our favorite holiday gifts for healthy teeth:
This one may be the best gift for a child of any age, and you might be surprised at the reaction you will receive when they unwrap it. Electric toothbrushes can provide a little buzz for your kid – younger kids get a kick out of using an electric brush and older kids appreciate their ease of use. Electric toothbrushes also help ensure that your child brushes for the dentist recommended two minutes, as many come with automatic timers that switch off after a full session. Many electric versions also help keep your children from brushing too hard, as they come equipped with a pressure sensor that keeps them from accidentally damaging their teeth and/or gums with overly vigorous brushing.
CHEWING GUM (WITH XYLITOL SWEETENERS)
Your child will likely receive all kinds of teeth-decaying sweets and candies from relatives and friends during the holiday period, but this is one sweet treat that you can drop in a stocking without even a hint of guilt. Xylitol tastes great and also has the added benefit of actually cleaning teeth. That’s because Xylitol stimulates saliva production, which helps protect teeth in a number of ways by regulating acid levels in the mouth as well as delivering more calcium to the enamel that encases and protects your teeth. Chewing Xylitol gum also cleanses your teeth of decay-producing food debris while simultaneously helping to prevent plaque buildup. It’s a combination that is hard to beat, and one that your kids will enjoy using.
MOUTH GUARD FOR SPORTS
For the physically active kids in your life, a mouth guard can prove an invaluable piece of protective equipment. Kids that compete in any contact sport – football, hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, wrestling and even basketball and soccer – should utilize a mouth guard in order to minimize the risk of breaking teeth and lacerating your lips, tongue or cheek. In fact, the government estimates that more than 3 million teeth are knocked out at youth sporting events annually. The good news is that a mouth guard can greatly mitigate this risk – and the advancements in mouth guard technology mean that these are not the uncomfortable, oversized behemoths of your youth. In fact, we can provide information and direction on what would work best for your young athlete, so contact us today and ask our advice. We’ll ensure that your child gets a gift that is not only helpful but comfortable and enjoyable.
BOOKS ON ORAL HEALTH
This is one for very young children, as there are a lot of really good books available that are designed to both educate and entertain them on various aspects of dental hygiene – including several targeted at helping them get over the anxiety of visiting the dentist. “What to Expect When You Go to the Dentist” paints a comforting picture of what dentists do and how their trip to the dentist will actually be enjoyable. And then there’s The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss. What child (or parent for that matter) can resist a chance to curl up with Dr. Seuss? And this book teaches small children all about teeth – and not just their own but all kinds of teeth for all kinds of creatures – as well as how to care for them. It is, as you would expect a perfect balance of laughter, light and information. Other great titles for young children include: Brush Your Teeth Please by Leslie McGuire, Bear’s Loose Tooth by Karma Wilson and Sugar Bugs by Erica Weisz and Sam Weisz.
TOOTH CARE TRAVEL KIT
Oral health doesn’t take a vacation just because you do, and the same goes for your children. And they need an easy way to care for their oral hygiene when you go on the road. Combining a toothbrush travel case with a travel pack of toothpaste, mouthwash, and floss – all inside a personalized container – will allow your children to easily bring their oral health habits with them wherever they go and ensure that they don’t leave their tooth care at home.
All of the options above represent easy-to-find and relatively simple gifts, but there are a few other items that are even simpler and fit easily in your child’s stocking. And these gifts too will help them keep up with their oral health as they head into the coming year.
EASY STOCKING STUFFERS
With so many flavors, and packaging options, you can find a toothpaste that will fit the mood of your child and get them a little more excited about brushing time. Make sure whatever brand/flavor you purchase carries the ADA seal of approval on the package. And try to look for total protection styles of toothpaste. NOTE: Whitening pastes can sometimes irritate young gums and teeth.
A golden oldie, apples have been finding their way into stockings around the globe for generations – and for good reason. Not only do they taste great, but they are super healthy and actually help clean teeth as they are eaten. That is because the apple scrubs your teeth, gums and tongue as you chew them – an action that helps fight plaque buildup and the presence of stains on your teeth. The humble apple also helps battle bad breath, as it helps remove traces of residue from the back of the tongue, where bacteria buildup leads to unpleasant smells. On top of that, the high-fiber apple helps balance the fructose within, helping to guard against weight gain. If your child doesn’t like apples, you could always try kiwi fruit as an alternative. NOTE: Oranges are also an oft-used stocking stuffer, but be careful with overdoing citrus, as the acids within can attack tooth enamel (a process called demineralization) and make your mouth a less healthy environment. Also, avoid dried fruit due to their extraordinarily high levels of sugar, which leads to tooth decay. Dried fruit will also attach itself to teeth, eroding enamel via the acids present within.
Follow these tips and you’ll not only give your children a step up in their oral health this holiday season but also have them thinking (even if not consciously) about keeping up with good hygiene. Granted, you’ll still have to make sure they stay on top of the processes of brushing and flossing, but these gifts will help ensure they have the tools for success. Happy holidays! And if you ever have any questions or concerns, you can always contact Kids Dentistry of North Georgia for more advice. Simply call us today at 678-450-7011, and we’ll be happy to talk with you!