As parents begin buying stocking stuffers this Christmas season, Dr. Verwest has a few suggestions for items that will make kids (and their dentists) smile while protecting those precious pearly whites.
Xylitol-sweetened Chewing Gum: Sure, everyone loves some good peanut brittle around the holidays. But there is a sweet treat that can also improve children’s oral health. If brushing with fluoride toothpaste isn’t practical, chewing sugar-free gum after a meal stimulates saliva to buffer the acid and helps dislodge food particles from the mouth. Gum containing the natural sweetener, Xylitol, is a particularly good option since studies have shown that consistent exposure to Xylitol can help prevent tooth decay.
Flavored Toothpaste: Children can tire of brushing with mint or bubblegum-flavored toothpastes. Fortunately, those aren’t the only toothpaste options on the market. Uniquely-flavored toothpaste varieties like bacon, chocolate, cupcake, ice cream– even pickle – can provide a change of pace and get kids excited again about the prospect of brushing their teeth. Always make sure the toothpaste contains fluoride to fight tooth decay.
Flavored Floss: No oral hygiene routine is complete without flossing after brushing. Floss is normally pretty plain, but it doesn’t have to be. Like toothpaste, there is bacon, cupcake or pickled-flavored floss to match. If those flavors don’t do the trick, there are also mint, banana and cinnamon-flavored options for kids to enjoy.
Fun Toothbrush Holder/Toothbrush: Another way to get children brushing is by stuffing the stocking with fun oral health gifts like robot, tree or animal-shaped toothbrush holders that stick to walls. Kids like the characters and the holder provides a valuable and sanitary storage spot for their toothbrushes and toothpaste. There, the kids can place their toothbrush with a princess, race car or superhero-shaped handle. There are even battery-powered “smart” toothbrushes that light up or play tunes to let kids know how long they need to brush.
Sports Mouthguard: A recent study of America’s children’s oral health by Delta Dental1 found that 70 percent of kids do not wear a mouthguard during soccer, basketball or baseball/softball practices or games. Mouthguards should be worn during practices and games by kids playing contact sports to reduce the risk of injury to the mouth, teeth and gums. The quality of the mouthguard should be the primary concern. There are a number of options at sporting goods stores including off-the-shelf sized and boil in water and mold into place. The ones that are custom fit by a dentist are the best. There are plenty of fun colors and designs available to coordinate with a uniform of any color.