It's the holiday season, and while visions of sugar plums might be dancing in your children's heads, another image is stuck in yours: oral hygiene. The holidays may be magical, but they also mean a barrage of sweets, hectic schedules and late nights – none of which are conducive to good oral health. If your family's dental health has been less-than-stellar during the holidays, packing their stockings full of travel toothpaste and other oral goodies can act as a gentle reminder that the best gift is a happy, healthy smile. Include some of these items to see their faces – and smiles! – light up on Christmas morning.
1. Travel Oral Care
Your family might be the perfect picture of oral health at home, but less enthusiastic when traveling, having sleepovers or even at the office. That's where travel toothpaste and portable, disposable oral products can really come in handy. Travel toothpaste is compact and easy to pop into an overnight bag, while disposable oral products like the Colgate Wisp are ideal to throw into backpacks or briefcases for on-the-go freshening. This mini brush head cleans the surface of teeth and has a soft pick at the end to clean spaces between the teeth. There are no excuses for bad oral health in the New Year!
2. New Toothbrushes
The American Dental Association suggests getting a new toothbrush every three or four months, but that's not always the case if you leave it up to your kids. By popping a new toothbrush into their stockings, you've got the perfect way to reset the toothbrush timer, so you can remember when it's time for a replacement come March or April. Focus on getting the right toothbrush for the right family member for the best results: Soft bristles for your toddler, favorite characters for school-aged kids and fun designs for picky teens should do the trick.
3. Small Toys and Gifts
Some of the best oral care gifts you can give your children in their stockings aren't for their mouths at all. By swapping out candy and treats for fun toys, gadgets and other items, you reduce the temptation to indulge in sugary candy around the holidays, which can lead to tooth decay. Try some of these fun, non-candy surprises:
- Silly Putty or play dough
- Stickers, crayons and other craft supplies
- Small puzzles
- Pencils, pens and markers
- Coloring books
- Hair accessories
- Toiletries, such as deodorant, shampoo or bubble bath
- Small cars or doll toys
By focusing on non-candy stocking stuffers, you keep your kids busy, happy and sugar-free – at least for a little while.
4. Sugar-Free Gum
If you must stock your kids' stockings with treats, go with a few packs of sugar-free gum. After all, the ADA notes that chewing with sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after meals and snacks increases saliva flow and reduces plaque acid for healthier teeth. Even if you can't keep your kids out of the holiday treats, you can at least offer some gum to help keep their teeth clean when there isn't a toothbrush in sight. Luckily, sugar-free gum comes in a variety of flavors. Just keep it away from babies and toddlers, since it can be a choking hazard.
5. Floss and Mouthwash
Finally, don't forget to add some floss and mouthwash to your family's stockings. Though sometimes forgotten, both floss and mouthwash provide important services to improve oral health. Since brushing doesn't get all the food particles, plaque and germs, oral care should be a three-step process.
If your family doesn't love flossing or mouthwash, try swapping out products for easier-to-use items instead: floss picks instead of regular string floss, or sweeter-tasting mouthwash if your kids hate mint. That way, their stocking stuffers get your kids excited about oral health.
Sure, the holidays are all about family, food and festivities – but don't make the mistake of letting your family ignore their oral health at Christmastime. By gifting them with dental-conscious stocking stuffers, you can ensure a new year of healthy smiles to come.