The holidays are a time for indulgence, but kids probably have it harder than adults when it comes to moderation. Not only do they lack impulse control, but they also get bombarded at this time of year with a virtually limitless array of colorful treats designed to appeal specifically to them. And they want to try them all!
Unfortunately, some of those treats are bad news for your kids’ teeth and should be avoided (or at least consumed in limited amounts). Here’s a short list of treats we think are worthy of the Grinch treatment:
- Rice Krispies Treats – These are a holiday favorite for kids, especially when they’re cut into snowmen and candy cane shapes and decorated with candy. But sticky treats are almost always the worst because they adhere to the inside of the mouth, putting sugar paste in contact with the teeth and gums for longer and increasing the risk that small bits of food will remain hidden in the crevices of your kids’ teeth after a less-than-thorough brushing before bed.
- Sour Candies – Older kids love these for a stocking stuffer, but sour candies are highly acidic foods that break down tooth enamel, leaving teeth vulnerable to cavities. Best to avoid them entirely.
- Hot Chocolate – This is a tough one, because sipping hot chocolate is virtually indispensable from a fireside holiday gathering. Still, liquid sugar can penetrate those hard-to-reach crevices of teeth that a toothbrush may miss. Worse, hot chocolate contains chromagens that stain tooth enamel, and children don’t need to get a head start on yellow teeth.
- Candy Canes – Like sticky foods, hard candies remain in contact with the surface of teeth for longer than other sugary foods do, and their sugars dissolve more slowly than other kinds of sweets do–which increases the opportunity for cavities. The smaller the chunk of peppermint candy, the better. Avoid giving children full-size candy canes or novelty peppermint logs.
Of course, you’ll want to pick your battles, and you’ll definitely want to supervise your kids’ brushing habits a little more closely during the holidays. Remind them that forgoing a few of their favorite holiday treats may save them an unpleasant trip to the dentist in the spring. We look forward to healthy smiles at your kids’ next visit.