Protecting your children’s teeth at Christmas

A balancing act between healthy teeth and having fun.

All over the West Midlands, children will now be starting to get excited about a visit from Santa Claus and opening their presents on Christmas day. For parents too, seeing the look on their children’s faces as they open their presents makes the stressful period leading up to Christmas worthwhile.

Once the excitement has died down a little though, and after Christmas dinner has been eaten, most of us will spend a large part of the afternoon (and probably most of Boxing Day) slumped in our seats watching TV, often with one of the many boxes of chocolates we have received as presents, at our side.

The ‘Sticky’ Factor

Whilst we can argue that it is only for a few days a year, Christmas is a time when we often break from routine and, most of us anyway, would not consume the amount of chocolates and toffees that we do around Christmas; sometimes simply for the sake of getting rid of them quickly!

This binge eating of sweets is relatively harmless to our health in the long run, providing that we otherwise eat healthily, but it can have an impact upon our teeth and especially those of our children.

Children, as most parents know, love to eat sweets but at the same time, often hate to clean their teeth. Why this seems to be the case is one of life’s mysteries, but it does seem to be the case.

As parents or carers, it is our responsibility to ensure that our children do take good care of their teeth and this is especially so around Christmas time. Eating too many sweets and failing to clean their teeth properly means that the sugar will stay stuck to their teeth for long periods of time. This is especially the case with stickier sweets such as toffees.

If teeth are not cleaned well, the sugar in the sweets will start to cause tooth decay as the bacteria that feed on the sugar, eats away at the enamel of the teeth. Although cleaning the teeth prevents this, if they have not been cleaned well for a few days any damage done is irreversible and is likely to result in a tooth filling.

Giving children a hand

Depending on the age of your child, it is probably worthwhile cleaning their teeth for them, or at the very least supervising them. Although they will probably begrudge you doing this, it is worth it as there is little worse than a child suffering from toothache at Christmas time when all dentists, including our own dental practice near Birmingham are closed. In fact, even traveling to central Birmingham, you are extremely unlikely to find a dentist open on Christmas or Boxing Day.

After Christmas

Naturally, we hope that everyone reading this has a great Christmas and a relaxing time; however, as professional dentists, we also know that it is a time when younger children especially are likely to ignore their teeth more.

As we offer a children’s dentist service to patients from Sutton Coldfield and Birmingham, we suggest that if they have not visited a dentist for a while, arranging a check up early in the New Year will enable us to check for any ‘Christmas damage’ and will help to set your child off to a good start to 2014 with strong healthy teeth.