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Should my teeth be on holiday too?

Should my teeth be on holiday too?
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Holiday times are about fun and everyone likes to take a break from their normal routine. But, we need to remain responsible and help our children stick to good and healthy eating habits during holidays. Here are a few tips from BYY’s dental expert, Sarie Liebenberg on how to have fun, without upsetting the tooth fairy!

Create a budget

We can’t expect children to be the responsible ones and decide how much sweets they will consume during the holidays. Parents need to decide beforehand how much will be enough for the holidays and stick to that.

  • Eating a healthy meal at mealtimes. Children will be much less likely to overindulge in treats after a wholesome meal.
  • Encourage your kids to eat small fun-sized candy instead of huge chocolate bars. (Note to self to also buy accordingly)
  • Drink plenty of water. A funky water bottle to keep handy might be a good idea. Water will dilute the sugar from snacks that are consumed between meals. It also helps washing away some of the food particles staying behind between the teeth.
  • Timing of treats. Where possible, limit sweet treats to after lunch and supper. Not only will children eat less sweets after a meal, but it will also be better for restoring the pH of the mouth. Every time after eating, the pH of the mouth decreases.

How to look after your teeth on holidayDecay can develop when the pH of the mouth is lowered. When a meal and a treat are consumed all at once, the pH of the mouth will decrease, but will get enough time to increase again before the next meal and/or snack. This is far better versus keeping snacking and consuming sugary treats throughout the day in between meals.

  • Avoid sticky/chewy candy. These include sweets like gummy bears, caramels or similar sweets that easily stick to the teeth. It takes very long for these types of sweets to dislodge from the teeth, even with brushing sometimes it’s difficult to remove them from the deep grooves of the teeth.
  • Avoid long lasting candy. Like the above, long-lasting sweets like lollipops take very long to dissolve, allowing plenty of time for the teeth to get covered with sugar and for the sugar to stay in the mouth for a lengthy period.
  • Reduce sugary drinks. It’s one thing to allow more treats during holiday times but try to cut down on drinks containing sugar as well. Let it be one or the other, but not both.
  • Avoid sour candy. These acid-containing sweets are very harmful to the teeth.
  • Sugar free gum can help.

Chewing sugar free chewing gum will increase the saliva flow. Increased saliva flow will dilute the sugar and help wash away some of the particles between the teeth. It is also instrumental in restoring the pH of the mouth. Saliva has antibacterial properties – the more of that the better!

  • Choose healthy options with Xylitol. Xylitol blocks the production of decay-causing acid. There are several candies with xylitol options on the market to assist in healthier choices. (A word of caution – a person needs to be used to xylitol consumption. It needs to be slowly introduced to an individual to prevent an upset stomach. Start by giving one serving of Xylitol per day. This can be in the form of chewing gum, candy or xylitol granules as a sugar replacement. You also get toothpaste, mouth rinse and nasal spray containing Xylitol. Increase the consumption weekly to 2 and later 3, 4 and 5 servings. It is proven that 5 servings of Xylitol daily can decrease the risk of decay significantly.)
  • Create treats made of healthy alternatives like fruit/veg.This can be an excellent opportunity for the children to be creative and teach them to cook or bake or just give a hand in the kitchen.

Brushing and flossing is a must

Everyone can easily be caught up in late nights with lots of fun and running around till they drop! And in doing so, completely forgetting about the normal night routine of brushing and flossing. Consuming more sugary treats than usual, calls for more diligent oral care.

Make sure the little ones brush before they go to bed. It might be a good idea to let them brush before you go out at night, just in case the sandman comes before they get time to clean their teeth. Sometimes when we are having fun, we are less responsible. Let’s try to keep their oral routine at least the same, maybe even better!

  • Be more vigilant about healthy eating and good dental hygiene habits. Often when we break our normal routine, we tend to give up all the good habits and let the wheels come off altogether. Try to still have healthy meals and good teeth cleaning habits despite the unusual routine, more treats and going out more often.

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