With the holidays right around the corner, it’s time to think about your kids’ stocking stuffers. Let’s face it: Your kids’ teeth are at higher risk for developing decay during the holiday season, and a stocking full of treats will only increase their risk for cavities in the new year. Instead of candy and sugary sweets this year, consider these fun stocking stuffers that are useful and promote good oral health.
- A fun, new toothbrush. Since toothbrushes should be replaced approximately every three months (or sooner from worn bristles or illness), the holidays are the perfect time to restock your child’s toothbrushes. If you have a younger child, choose a manual toothbrush with a smaller head and soft bristles. The handle should be easy for tiny hands to grasp. Kid toothbrushes come in fun colors and themes, while some even light up and play music for the duration of brushing. For older kids, consider an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes make brushing more effective and efficient. Most also feature a built-in timer to encourage brushing for the correct amount of time.
- Tooth timer. Brushing for a full two minutes can be challenging — especially for younger kids. A small tooth timer that can be kept near the bathroom sink is a great way to encourage your kids to brush for the full length of time.
- Sugar-free chewing gum. While many stockings are filled with candy, these sugary treats can wreak havoc on your teeth, causing cavities and gum disease. Instead of candy, opt for sugar-free chewing gum. Sugar-free gum is available in every flavor imaginable and is a great, healthier alternative to sweets. It can also help in the production of saliva, which washes away trapped food particles from the surfaces of the teeth.
- Chocolate. Arguably, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a little sweet treat. Consider choosing chocolates. In moderation, chocolate is better for teeth than other sticky or chewy candy options, especially the dark varieties. That’s because chocolate melts in the mouth, while other sticky and chewy sweets — such as caramels and taffy — coat the teeth with sugar that can cause decay.
- Tooth Fairy pillow. A Tooth Fairy pillow features a small pocket for lost teeth. When a tooth is lost, the child slips the tooth into the pocket and tucks the pillow in her or his room at night as they await the Tooth Fairy’s arrival. This is a fun stocking stuffer option for small children who are still losing their baby teeth.
- Flavored toothpaste and dental floss. An easy way to keep oral hygiene interesting is to purchase flavored toothpaste and floss. From watermelon and strawberry to bubblegum and grape, today’s toothpaste and floss come in a variety of flavors other than traditional mint to keep your kids’ oral hygiene routine fun.
- Travel cases. A toothbrush case or cover is a helpful item to have on hand for traveling or sleepovers. The case covers the toothbrush head to keep it clean when your child is on the go!
This holiday season, give your child the gift of a healthy smile. By incorporating some of the stocking stuffer ideas above, practicing good oral hygiene habits and scheduling your family’s 2023 dental appointments, you can start the new year off cavity-free!