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How to Prevent Cavities while Enjoying Holiday Sweets

How to Prevent Cavities while Enjoying Holiday Sweets

When the holiday season comes around, there seems to be no shortage of candy and dessert around the house. Although it may be overwhelming and impossible to avoid all of these treats, there are plenty of safe and tasty snacks to satisfy young taste buds without interfering with your oral health. In fact, when preparing fun holiday treats with your child, you can include numerous healthy options that build strong teeth at the same time. Dr. Jaleel, your dentist in Ottawa is here to provide you with some tips and advice.

Treats to Avoid

When supermarket shelves are full of brightly packaged treats for the holidays, it’s hard not to fill your cart. But for the sake of your child’s braces, you still need to scoot past the hard, chewy and sticky foods. Children with braces should avoid caramel, licorice, lollipops, bubblegum, popcorn, taffy, jelly beans and hard pretzels. How come? Biting hard foods can bend or even break your child’s metal brackets.

Stick to Your Favorites

It’s hard to get away from sweet treats during the month of December. There’s the candy dish at the office, Aunt Mary’s triple-chocolate brownies, sugary hot beverages, tray upon tray of homemade cookies and even people handing out candy canes while you’re out running errands. Be picky when offered a goodie. Skip the items that are available throughout the year, such as store-bought cookies and M&Ms, and go for more special yummies guilt-free. Your teeth — and waistline — will thank you.

Brush Often

Clean your teeth after every sugary treat; perhaps consider a new toothbrush. This will help keep your mouth cleaner by reducing plaque buildup. Make it a household rule that candy, cookies, hot cocoa and other delicious foods are allowed only on condition that teeth be brushed immediately after the treats are eaten. Then make sure that everyone sticks to the rule, including Mom and Dad! This one step will go a long way toward teaching the whole family how to prevent cavities while keeping the season sweet.


Carry Oral Hygiene Tools with You

Lots of sweets are eaten outside of the home while shopping, visiting or attending parties. Pick up extra toothbrushes and small tubes of toothpaste for everyone in the family to carry with them. Trial sizes of mouthwash and dental floss complete the portable dental care package.

Chew Sugar-Free Gum

Chewing gum produces saliva. This helps to wash away bacteria. It’s also easier to resist treats when you have a piece of gum in your mouth. There is a wide range of sugar-free flavors on the market, including mint chocolate chip, cinnamon roll and apple pie à la mode.

Make Less Sticky Choices

Problems occur when the sugary coating remains on the teeth. Plaque loves the acids in sugar and other carbs. Choosing goodies that don’t leave a sticky coating, especially when you are not able to brush right away, reduces the risk of tooth damage. Enjoy a fresh fruit salad instead of a muffin for breakfast or pound cake instead of chocolate fudge for dessert.


Smart Snacks for Hungry Kids

Smart Snacks for Hungry Kids

Years ago, letting children eat between meals was frowned upon, but now we’ve learned that kids need to snack. Children should eat every three to four hours to get the energy and nutrients they require. And it’s important they eat right. Snacks should not be high in salt, fat, sugar and caffeine; they should be nutrient-dense and contain at least two different food groups. This may sound easy enough, but Dr. Jaleel knows how difficult it is for parents to prepare healthy food for their children to enjoy. Maybe your kid is a picky eater, maybe you’re too busy to prepare difficult snacks. Either way, your Ottawa dentist has some advice for you.

The best snacks are foods that aren’t sticky and that clear quickly from the mouth. Here is what your kids could eat. Change it up to provide variety so your kids never get bored. Put these into their lunch boxes for them to periodically snack on:

  • Whole-grain sandwiches with savoury filling, such as ham, turkey, or chicken
  • Bread sticks
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Fruits such as apples, oranges, bananas
  • Raw vegetables such as celery and carrots. For something extra special, pair them with hummus


Some food that deserves a permanent time-out are:

  • Cereal and marshmallow squares
  • Candy apples
  • Soft drinks
  • fruit rollups
  • Chocolate, especially if they contain caramel
  • doughnuts and other pastries

Brushing on the go

Even if you send your kids to school with a lunch box brimming with tooth-friendly snacks, they’ll still need to clean their teeth after eating. One tip is to tell your child to rinse his or her mouth vigorously a couple of times, preferably with community-fluoridated water from the tap at school.

A word about vitamin D

Sunlight provides vitamin D, but our northern climate means that we may not get enough of it during the winter. Being in Ottawa, we are all to familiar with the lack of sunlight. The best food source is fortified milk, but other foods (margarine, eggs, chicken livers and oily fish) contain small amounts. Most pediatric multivitamins contain sufficient vitamin D for your child’s needs, but always check with your pediatrician.

Kids and calcium

A well-balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is critical for healthy bones and teeth. Your first choice should be milk and milk products fortified with vitamin D. These don’t have to be the lower-fat kind, unless your child is close to the end of linear growth. Kids need the extra fat for energy and development. If your kid is lactose-intolerant, some great substitutes are: swiss, gouda or cheddar cheese, soy beverages, yogurt, canned sardines or salmon with bones.