How Orthodontists Fight Against the Holiday Sweet Takeover

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Holidays are pretty sweet — that much is for certain. With friends, family, celebrations and delicious food (not to mention an abundance of holiday cookies), there’s certainly no shortage of sweetness during the holidays.

But 1while a big part of what makes the holiday season so enjoyable is that it’s essentially free reign when it comes to treats, eating as many cookies, chocolates, and candies as your festive appetite desires isn’t just expanding your waistline a few inches. In fact, by eating treats in excess over the holiday season, you’re not only pushing the scale toward Santa Claus-weights, but you’re endangering your teeth as well. Knowing this, following are a few ways in which orthodontists try to combat the dental health effects of sweets over the holidays.

Scare ‘em Straight (your teeth, that is!)

When you hear the phrase “scare tactics,” you’re bound to think negatively about whatever is at hand. But what if you’re trying to scare kids into brushing their teeth by showing them some nightmarish photos of the teeth of children who didn’t practice good oral hygiene? For some orthodontists, this can be a very decent thing to do for a child’s dental health, and their parents who will end up paying the bills if their child has complications arising from oral hygiene issues.

Over the holidays in particular, it’s not uncommon for a child to come in for a January check up with visible tooth decay beneath a bracket. When this happens, an orthodontist will have to remove the bracket and refer the child’s parent to a dental professional who can treat the decay, which is an understandably undesirable situation. With this in mind, some orthodontists like to warn children and parents of such horror stories before the holidays, attempting to lessen the chances of it happening to them. But as always, seeing is believing — showing the child some photos of post-holiday tooth decay may just be your best route!

Candy Buy-Backs

Candy buy-backs are a relatively new phenomenon in the orthodontistry realm. Starting out as an attempt to incentivize kids into better eating/oral hygiene habits, a candy buy-back is typically organized by a local orthodontist/dentistry clinic, which will pay children for their excess candy over the holidays such as Christmas or Halloween, essentially buying the candy back. By incentivizing kids to take proactive steps in their quest for better oral hygiene, candy buy-backs may prove to be a very effective way to improve the overall dental health of children in the U.S. For now, however, only time will tell.

Encourage Good Dental Health Habits

While scaring kids and trying to buy their candy are both rational, reasonable approaches to stop them from enjoying sweets (and yes, that was worded intentionally to sound malicious), at the end of the day, sometimes all you can do is what you always do — encourage good dental health habits. Simply by reminding patients to brush their teeth at least twice a day, floss, and try to brush after every meal, orthodontists can at least provide a small bit of positive impact on the oral hygiene habits of their patients.

Dr. Darren Wittenberger is the owner of Advanced Orthodontics where he is the leading orthodontist Columbia, MO has to offer.  

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