Five reasons to think about your dental health over Christmas break

Beat the frantic end-of-holiday rush and book your family’s dental appointments now to get your kids’ teeth checked before they head back to school.

The ADA is reminding busy parents to make their appointments this week so childrens’ oral health is sorted during the school holidays.

“There are a whole load of jobs that people have to do before school resumes – and you don’t want to miss out as most dentists get booked up quite a bit in advance,” said Dr Mikaela Chinotti, the ADA’S Oral Health Promoter.

The school holidays are also a time when the good habits of the rest of the year can fall by the wayside.

“Just because your kids don’t have school sport doesn’t mean they should head outside to play without their trusty mouthguard,” said Dr Chinotti.

“They may be climbing trees, playing touch in the park with their mates or having an informal game of cricket with the family on Christmas Day.

“Whatever the occasion, make sure the mouthguards get washed and left somewhere handy so the children can find them with ease and place them in their mouths for safe summer sports and games.

“Dentists often see children presenting in their practices during holidays with traumatic dental injuries that could have been prevented, or the damage reduced, had they been wearing a protective mouthguard.

“The best mouthguards are those obtained from your dentist as they can be customised to fit the size and shape of your child’s mouth.”

Another seasonal issue is sugar consumption and what children and adults drink and eat over the break. It may be helpful to pass on these shocking statistics to children and teenagers so they think twice about what they put into their mouths over the next five weeks. Did you know:

– there are typically 26 teaspoons of sugar in an average one litre cola bottle,

– young men aged 12 to 24 are the highest consumers of sugar in the country,

– one in six teenagers consumes over 5kg of sugar a year from sugary drinks alone – this is about the same weight as the standard pet cat,

– many fruit juices contain as many kilojoules (calories) and sugars as fizzy drinks,

– some flavoured yoghurts, muesli bars and cereals contain as much or more sugar than a single Tim Tam.

“Encourage your kids to drink tap water or low fat milk instead of sugary drinks to help prevent decay,”

said Dr Chinotti. “Water is best as it keeps your body hydrated, is sugarless and has no calories, so

it’s better for teeth and waistline.”

Alcohol is another part of Christmas people don’t normally associate with tooth decay. But, says Dr

Chinotti, “adults should limit alcohol consumption because these drinks are acidic or sugary.

“To minimise the damage some alcoholic drinks do to teeth, we advise people to drink plain water

between your glass of wine, beer or mixer, to rinse the mouth and stay hydrated. The drier your mouth,

the more damage sugars and acids from alcohol can do.”

Some dentists have reduced coverage over the ten day Christmas and New Year break. For families

needing a dentist during this time, and whose usual dentist is away, the ADA has a list of dentists in

each state which can provide emergency care.

Services may be limited to pain relief, trauma care or the provision of antibiotics where required.

Patients will be referred to a rostered emergency dentist by either web-based or telephone services.

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