Wintertime is here, along with challenges for protecting kids’ teeth. Discover how to ensure your child’s teeth stay healthy, despite lures like hot chocolate and outdoor winter sports.
Protecting your kids’ dental health in winter brings a few extra challenges, like the lure of hot chocolate, sugar cookies and rough-and-tumble outdoor play. With some planning on your part, your child can enjoy winter activities and a healthy mouth.
1. Limit sugary treats
Treats like hot chocolate, cider and sugar cookies are hallmarks of the winter season. While it’s not necessary to ban sugar from your child’s diet, it’s advisable to limit the exposure. Serve sugary goodies in moderation and have your child brush, or rinse with water right after eating. Take the opportunity to teach proper brushing techniques.
When possible, replace sugar with alternatives. For instance, many cough drops are loaded with sugar. Opt for a sugar-free version if your child gets the sniffles.
2. Discourage sharing
Sharing toys is a habit you want to encourage in kids, but sharing foods isn’t such a good idea. When children drink and eat after one another, they increase the odds of spreading tooth decay and cold sores—not to mention cold germs! If there are several children, label each child’s cup with his or her name.
3. Keep your child hydrated
Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean that your child can’t get dehydrated. As a matter of fact, dehydration is common during winter.1 Heavier clothing causes children’s bodies to work harder and produce more sweat as they run around and play. In the cold air, sweat evaporates more quickly and a child’s thirst response isn’t as active.
Serve water throughout the day, even when your child doesn’t appear to be thirsty. Depending on your water, it may also contain fluoride for healthy teeth.
4. Teach good dental hygiene
Protecting your kids’ dental health in winter requires that you continue to encourage proper dental habits. Even when children are ill, it’s a good idea to brush and floss as usual. This is especially important if a child contracts an intestinal issue that results in vomiting. Cleaning the teeth of the resulting stomach acids is important and will make your child feel more comfortable.
5. Protect your child’s teeth
If your child participates in outdoor winter sports, the use of a mouthguard is highly recommended. A high percentage of injuries during sports are dental ones.2 Depending on the sport, a mouthguard or helmet with face mask may be advisable. You can buy an over-the-counter mouthguard, but a custom fit model is a good idea if your child will be using the device frequently.
Winter can be an exciting time for children filled with fun experiences. Make the season even more enjoyable by ensuring that you protect kids’ dental health in winter.