How To Protect Children’s Teeth This Christmas |

How To Protect Children’s Teeth This Christmas

Make sure it’s a white Christmas smile with these top tooth-saving tips...

Posted on

19 December 2018

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How To Protect Children’s Teeth This Christmas

All Credits: PA

With the festive season now in full swing, oral health is probably pretty low on your list of priorities. But as the season of giving begins, new research has found just how many sweet treats children are expected to eat at Christmas.

Bupa’s National Dental Survey shows the average child in Britain will chew through an average of five sweet treats a day over the festive period – amounting to a potential 35 sugary snacks over the Christmas week.

The survey also uncovered that a quarter of children aged 5-10 will exceed five sweet treats a day and one in ten aged 10-17 will eat more than 10 a day.

From mince pies and hot chocolate, to selection boxes and candy canes – all this extra sugar can wreak havoc on teeth. But looking after your child’s oral health doesn’t mean you have to turn into Ebenezer Scrooge.

“When it comes to our teeth, it’s not so much how much sugar we eat or drink, but how often we eat it,” says Dr Steve Preddy, Bupa Dental Care’s clinical director and dentist.

“Every time we consume something sugary, the acid produced by bacteria in the mouth rockets, exposing teeth to a serious risk of enamel erosion.

“It can take up to an hour for it to return back to normal, in which time we might be eating more sweets and starting the process again.

“For children, this poses even more of a problem as their teeth may not yet be fully developed and therefore more sensitive when exposed to high levels of acidity.

It’s for these reasons that Preddy says it’s actually better for teeth to let your children eat sweets in one go, allowing the saliva to neutralise the acids once and for all.

He also advises eating sweets close to meal times: “When we eat, we produce more saliva, which helps neutralise the acids produced by bacteria in the mouth and also helps to rinse away food particles and sugary substances.”

Here, Preddy shares his top tips for protecting little ones’ teeth without ruining the festive fun.

1. Choose the “best sweets”

It’d be a little ‘bah-humbug’ to ban sweets at Christmas – after all, it is a time for celebration and indulgence. However, Preddy says that we should remember some sweets can be better than others.

“Instead of sticky treats that can get stuck on teeth, opt for ones that dissolve quickly, limiting their contact with enamel.

“For example, swap caramels, toffee and candy canes with plain dark chocolate, fresh fruit salads or a hot chocolate that’s heavy on the milk and lighter on the chocolate.

“You can even add a sprinkle of cinnamon to make it an extra Christmassy treat.”

2. Rinse after eating

Rinse after eating

A common mistake lots of parents make is getting their kids to brush straight after eating something sugary, warns Preddy. However, by doing so you are not giving saliva the chance to neutralise the acids.

Instead, he says they should rinse their mouths with water to wash away food particles and wait for an hour before encouraging them brush.

3. Supervise brushing

Young or old, everyone should brush their teeth for two minutes, twice a day – especially with the extra sugar consumption at Christmas. “Make the effort to supervise your children when they are brushing so there’s no cutting corners,” stresses Preddy.

4. Steal some of Santa and Rudolph’s snacks

“When there’s an endless supply of sweet snacks to munch on, ensuring healthy options like a glass of milk or carrot sticks are also part of your child’s daily diet, is extremely important,” says Preddy.

“Milk contains calcium, which makes teeth stronger, while crunchy fruit and veggies, such as carrots and apples are both high in fibre and great at increasing saliva production in their mouth. ”

5. Keep up with dental exams and cleanings

Can’t remember the last time you went to the dentist? If in doubt, call up and check.

“We all know it gets really busy around the holidays and going to the dentist probably falls to the bottom of the to-do list,” says Preddy. “However, your child’s check-ups and hygienist appointments are extremely important as they help spot and prevent issues.”