It’s the season of sugarplums and rich foods and we’re in a gift-giving frenzy. While you’re stuffing those stockings, why not give your loved ones the gift of good oral health? According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), 99.7% of Americans believe a smile is an important social asset.
You don't have to stuff holiday stockings with pounds of chocolates, suckers and gummy candy. Find some favorite sweets in miniature sizes or special holiday wrappings and remember that these are treats, not a winter's supply of candy. Healthy snacks like dried fruit made without added sugar, nuts covered with dark chocolate, baggies of homemade granola mix or chewy fruit leather made with 100 percent fruit are good choices. Indulge their sweet tooth safely with sugarless gum. It’s a healthier option than sugared gum, and can promote saliva production, helping with hygiene and halitosis issues. Look for a pack with xylitol, a sweet additive that fights tooth decay.
For young children, losing baby teeth is an exciting time. A way to make it even more special is to tuck a Tooth Fairy pillow into their stocking, to hold that lost tooth under their pillow for the Tooth Fairy to redeem.
Christmas is a good time to tuck a new toothbrush in everyone’s stocking and we suggest you purchase a soft-tipped brush with curved bristles. Soft bristles won’t scratch tooth surfaces or damage gum tissue. A worn-out brush with frayed bristles just won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth and it’s wise to replace toothbrushes every three to four months. Colorful characters on kid’s toothbrushes and accessories make them fun. Get fanciful holders for the bathroom and look for colorful toothbrush covers to keep germs at bay when traveling. Pick up a brushing timer (or even an egg timer), which gets your kids to keep brushing for the recommended two minutes. Today’s toothbrushes play music, tell stories and have blinking lights to make brushing fun, not just another boring chore they have to do before bedtime.
An electric or sonic toothbrush may thrill teens and adults who prize their smile, and they come in all sizes and price ranges. Electric toothbrushes can be more effective than manual brushes and are particularly useful for seniors with arthritis or people with physical disabilities that make it difficult to wield a manual toothbrush. Oral irrigation devices like water picks make great gifts, especially for those with orthodontic braces. Just remember that these devices are designed to be used after brushing and flossing, not as a replacement. You’ll be surprised at the amount of food the fine water stream dislodges.
There are lots of stocking sized dental items. Does your family share the same giant-sized tube of toothpaste? Why not try some smaller sizes of interesting new flavors, and include travel sizes for sleepovers? Be sure the toothpaste has fluoride, and everything else is up to you. Colgate makes a popular watermelon-flavored one that meets all ADA requirements. Also easily available are disposable mini-toothbrushes with a breath-freshening bead that allows you to have a clean, fresh mouth without water or rinsing. Include colorful plastic keys or slides to keep the tube neat when squeezed.
Dental floss is one of those good things that come in small packages, and even different flavors. Flossing should always follow brushing for perfect tooth care. Companies offer oddball choices like bacon and cupcake flavor toothpaste and floss to match, but cinnamon and mint remain favorites. Floss picks are another great idea. They usually come in bags of 100 and are great for that unwanted piece of food that gets stuck in the hard-to-reach areas.
White strips are an over-the-counter, at-home tooth whitening solution in many strengths. You can find everything from a 14 day kit to a one-hour express option. These at-home whitening kits aren’t as strong as the whitening procedures a dentist can give, but they will remove some of the surface stains for that special occasion. A gift certificate for teeth-whitening for a soon-to-be-bride or grad could be tucked easily into a stocking.
Sports Mouth Guard
Have an athlete at home? A sports mouth guard is a particularly great stocking stuffer. Many kids don’t wear a mouth guard during soccer, basketball or softball practices or games, and a guard can reduce the risk of injury to the mouth, teeth, and gums. There are plenty of fun colors and designs available to coordinate with a uniform of any color and your dentist can recommend the best for your child.
What to Look For
When choosing oral health products, look for those with the American Dental Association's (ADA) Seal of Acceptance or ask your dentist and staff for ideas and recommendations.
Enjoy yourself this holiday season and brush away those sweet indulgences we all enjoy. Moderation and good oral hygiene will take you into the New Year with a smile!