Hop to the Dentist This Month - First Things First
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It’s time to spring into action, because April is here, bringing with it chocolate bunnies, candy marshmallows, jellybeans and Easter treats galore. It’s easy to see why kids love this time of year.

But don’t let cavities or painful dental issues put a damper on your family’s festivities. This is the perfect time to schedule your toddler or preschooler’s bi-annual dental cleaning. As a rule of thumb, little ones should see a pediatric dentist every six months for a cleaning and checkup beginning with their first birthday, or when you see their first tooth.

It’s also a good time to talk to your children about “anytime” foods, which are healthy and good for their teeth and “sometimes” foods, which are usually sugary and should be eaten once in a while. Healthy habits will help them make better choices. The sugar-free Easter basket alternatives below can also help. (And your dentist will thank you.)

Here are a few suggestions for building a tooth-friendly Easter basket for the little ones in your life.

  • Art Supplies

Kids love crayons, colorful modeling clay, watercolors, paintbrushes, colorful construction paper and coloring books. Art supplies provide children with a chance to be creative, plus it will also keep them busy doing something imaginative and productive. The best part about adding art supplies to your child’s Easter basket is that it is easy to create a theme and stick with it — from sports to unicorns to kittens, there are tons of options for creating a colorful basket, free of sugary treats.

  • Toys

Celebrate spring in Cochise County by getting the kids outside this Easter before temperatures heat up too much. Fill up Easter baskets with things like sidewalk chalk, squirt guns, balls of all shapes and sizes and yard games. Not only will these activities keep their teeth free of sugar overload, but outdoor play helps develop gross motor skills.

  • Stuffed Animals

Here is a dentist-approved Easter hack: Swap out the chocolate bunny for a cuddly stuffed one. Plush chicks, rabbits or any animal of your choice make the perfect addition to a little one’s Easter basket. Not to mention they will last longer and be much better for keeping your toddler or preschooler’s smile healthy and bright.

Replace Sugar with Healthier Alternatives

Decrease the amount of candy in Easter baskets and plastic eggs by mixing in healthier alternatives in addition to limited sweet treats. Things like graham crackers, cheddar bunnies, pretzels, applesauce pouches, and other sugar-free treats are sure to be just as much of a hit as sugar-filled snacks.

Some favorite candy alternatives include:

  • Graham cracker bites
  • Baked cheddar bunnies or squares
  • Pretzels
  • Cereal
  • Trail mix
  • Almonds
  • Dried fruit
  • Organic fruit snacks

Picking Candy Wisely

You can still include some candy, just make sure to choose your candy wisely. Choose sweet treats that melt away rapidly and don’t get stuck to the teeth. Chocolate is one of the best treats for children’s teeth because it is quickly washed away by water and saliva.

The worst Easter candies for kids’ teeth are:

  • Jellybeans
  • Marshmallow Treats
  • Lollipops
  • Hard candies
  • Gummy candies
  • Caramels
  • Cream-filled chocolate eggs
  • Anything sticky

Adhere to These Tooth Care Guidelines

While loading up your shopping basket with scrumptious treats for everyone, take a trip down the dental hygiene aisle of your local supermarket too. Holidays are a great time to add new toothbrushes, toothpaste, and fluoride rinses into your children’s lives. In fact, there are plenty of fun, unique flavors, colors, and types of dental hygiene items specifically geared toward children that make for nice additions to their Easter baskets.

Also, encourage your littles ones to brush their teeth twice a day, floss regularly and drink lots of water with fluoride. By drinking water, the body naturally eliminates left-behind food particles that can stick to kids’ teeth and gums. Drinking water is one of the most simple and beneficial things children can do to help reduce their risk of tooth decay. Plus, it is always a great idea to stay hydrated in the Arizona sun! For some fun activities and more tooth-friendly tips, scroll down to the “Coloring Page” and “Activities” section of: https://teeth.firstthingsfirst.org/