‘Tis the season for gingerbread houses, candy canes and mince pies. Unfortunately, not all these holiday treats are safe for teens wearing braces. As a busy parent, the last thing you want to deal with during the holidays is an emergency orthodontic appointment to repair damage caused by a holiday treat. These tips can help you stock the pantry with braces-friendly treats and help your child maintain good oral habits during the holiday season.
Skip sticky, chewy and hard treats.
With supermarket shelves filled with seasonal treats, it’s tempting to bring home favourite candies and sweets. Unfortunately, holiday food and braces don’t always mix. For the sake of your child’s braces, avoid sticky, chewy or hard treats. Watch out for caramel, licorice, taffy, bubblegum, popcorn balls, peanut brittle, and fudge. Not only are these treats packed with sugar, they can also easily get stuck along brackets and between wires. The resulting mess can be a serious challenge to properly clean. Watch out for hard candies, including candy canes. Biting into these candies can bend or even break your child’s metal brackets.
Let relatives know about food restrictions in advance.
Grandma may not mean to cause any harm with her homemade peanut brittle or fudge, but you certainly don’t want an orthodontic emergency when you’re far from home. If you’re visiting relatives for the holidays, remind your family that your child cannot eat sticky, chewy or hard candies– and let them know which favourite treats are on the “safe to eat” list.
These are a few kid-friendly treat alternatives that the whole family can enjoy:
- Fresh seasonal citrus fruits like nectarines and tangerines.
- Soft cheeses, like holiday cheese balls and logs without any hard nuts.
- Hot chocolate without the marshmallows or candy canes.
- Soft cookies, muffins and breads.
- Cinnamon applesauce.
- Potato pancakes with sour cream.
Stick to regular brushing routines.
Maintaining good oral habits is important during the holidays when it’s tempting to overindulge in sweet treats. Brushing after eating can help stop the sugar in these treats from causing tooth enamel decay. If your family is travelling for the holidays, a change in your child’s daily routine could adversely impact their oral habits, however. Whether you’re visiting relatives or hosting guests, remind your child about the importance of keeping up with their regular brushing and flossing routine:
- Brush twice a day. Encourage your teen to do it in the morning after breakfast and again before bedtime.
- Swish with water before brushing. This loosens any food particles that may be caught in the braces.
- Floss daily before bedtime. Flossing helps loosen food debris that can build up along the gum line and would otherwise harden into tartar. Flossing can remove food particles from hard-to-reach nooks and crannies that may be difficult to clean with just a toothbrush.
- Use a fluoride rinse. A fluoride rinse after brushing may help keep your child’s teeth healthy and strong during treatment. Ask your orthodontist for a child-friendly recommendation.
Don’t skip appointments.
Busy holiday schedules, school breaks and family travel can make for a very hectic month of December. While it’s tempting to push back your child’s monthly orthodontist visit, try to stick to the usual check-up plan as closely as possible. These regular visits with your orthodontist are important for keeping your child’s treatment plan on track.
Questions about how to help your teen survive the holidays with braces? Contact Docbraces for more tips on good hygiene and braces-friendly holiday foods.