As families plunge into the Christmas Season, here at Dentistry for Children, we have become concerned about healthy teeth and diet choices for the Holidays.

Smiling family decorates tree at Pediatric Dentistry for Children.

Healthy Choices for Holiday Foods Create Great Smiles

This week we continue our topic of healthy teeth for the holiday with our top five helpful hints for delicious foods that keep your teeth healthy, but first, a note from our office:

About That Holiday Schedule…

Christmas Holiday planning, shopping, decorating and you guessed it—food– can be hard on schedules, and equally hard on oral health.  Pediatric Dentist’s offices are often busy places during the holidays when school is not in session.

Please put a shining star on your appointment date if it falls in Dec. and Jan.  One of the top three requirements of good oral health and beautiful teeth is to see the dentist regularly.

Likewise, on a daily basis, with the school schedule interrupted, we know it can be difficult to maintain a morning and bedtime schedule that begins with good brushing. 

All We Want For Christmas!

We are now hearing the strains of Holiday carols, and surprisingly there is one about teeth! Very few American children have never heard “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.  Quite a few of our young patients might be making this wish as they grow their permanent teeth.  However, no other reason for losing two front teeth is good, or natural!

All we want for Christmas is to encourage healthy dental habits during the Christmas holidays.  Don’t worry, we are not trying to put you on a dental Holiday diet.  We will just show you our five favorite healthy holiday food choices.  Amazingly enough, these good food choices are both delicious and nutritious.

Hint Number One:  Surprising Holiday Greens!

We love to hang holly and pine greenery at this time of year, but some of the best greens can actually be placed on your dining table.  This is the season for spinach and kale.  We are sure they are not at the top of your holiday dinner shopping list, but they are very good for your dental health.

Have leafy greens as an option for healthy teeth.

The Christmas Season Salad, for healthy teeth!

Laura Rutledge, MA, RD, a dietitian and assistant professor in the department of nutrition at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, explains, “Spinach, kale, collard greens — these and other high-fiber vegetables help ‘wash’ our teeth by requiring more chewing, which produces more saliva, a natural lubricant for our teeth…”

So, we ask you to take a frosty bowl of leafy greens, toss with  some strawberries, crumble in some fresh cheese, sprinkle with nuts, and dress it up with a little oil and vinegar.  Not only does this dish look festive, but it is good for your teeth.

Hint Number Two: More Good Press for Cheese and Teeth

In our previous blog we mentioned cheese as a good oral health option for both meals and snacks.  Now we bring you more good news about it:

Dr. Rutledge states, “Cheese contains casein, a protein with protective properties that helps fight cavities.

It also contains calcium and phosphorus, which promote teeth re-mineralization, a naturally occurring process that helps prevent cavities.”

You probably already know that calcium also contributes to healthy bones at any age.  We are also going to include other dairy products, like yogurt and ice cream as holiday treat options in this calcium rich hint.

Hint Number Three:  Ban the Sugar Plum Fairy from Your Children’s Teeth!

 

A healthy option to cake: berries and cream

Teeth deserve berries and yogurt for health and fun.

Some of the traditional Christmas candies such as peppermint canes, toffee, taffy, and caramel are the worst candy offenders on our naughty list!

They are so sticky they cling to teeth long after the enjoyment is gone.  The gooey sugar glues itself to the surface of the teeth where it feeds the bacteria that cause decay.

 

Matthew Messina, DDS, a dentist in Fairview Park, Ohio, advises, “If you do indulge in sweets, be sure to follow it up with drinking water or even better, brushing and flossing.”  This goes for children of any age!

Hint Number Four:  Have a Berry Nice Snack or Desert!

Cranberries are a natural delicacy for this time of year, but any kind of berry is full of nutrients and antioxidants.  Berries are a good choice to satisfy your sweet tooth.

They are a much better choice than the traditional sticky, dried fruits that are so often part of the season.

We do remind you that berries  can be acidic, so drink some water or better yet, brush after eating them.

Hint Number Five:  Enjoy A Different Kind of Nutcracker Suite!

Big teeth and a big hat make a nutcracker into a prince.

You do not have to avoid nuts.  This surprises many people who are afraid chewing them might break the teeth.

Not only do nuts have phosphorus and calcium, but they also satisfy your natural urge to crunch.

However, we hope you prevent your children from cracking the nutshells with their teeth.

Using jaw power to open nuts can crack or chip teeth.

We suggest you utilize that fancy holiday Nutcracker!  Never crack nuts with your teeth.

Thank you for reading our Five top hints for a healthy oral hygiene over the holidays and happy holiday planning!