Holiday treats and presents don’t have to be all about sweets and frivolous toys – though perhaps there should be a whole lot of that, too. The doctors at Olympia’s Small To Tall Pediatric Dentistry have some great ideas for dental health-related holiday gifts that have the added benefit of causing smiles while also helping to keep them healthy.
The most obvious holiday gift is the toothbrush. This crucial dental tool comes in a variety of kid-friendly designs. An electric toothbrush can be a great investment in long-term dental health.
“My personal favorite is the Sonicare brush,” says Dr. Scott Rowley. “They have a kids brush available, but in our household, we have just one brush and each family member switches the head when it’s their turn. Oral-B makes a nice electric brush, too.”
A recent Journal of Pediatric Dentistry article compared the efficacy of plaque removal using a Sonicare brush versus the traditional toothbrush. The Sonicare did a much better job than the manual toothbrush on the 4- to 7-year-old study participants’ teeth.
“You might consider getting the children’s Sonicare brush,” Dr. Rowley continues. “It’s designed to be more appealing to kids.”
“Toothbrushes are perfect stocking stuffers,” agrees Dr. Ben Ruder. He suggests an interesting company called Smiles Squared, which offers ecologically sustainable toothbrushes made of biodegradable bamboo.
“With each purchase of a toothbrush, they donate a brush to children in third world countries,” he says. “It’s a charitable way to give a gift of oral health to somebody you love, as well as somebody who needs it abroad.”
Another Sonicare product that Dr. Rowley likes is the AirFloss. This innovative new product is similar to a water pick in that it shoots water but does so in one blast, very quickly, between the teeth.
“My wife uses it, and she’s never been a good flosser,” he says, laughing. “She uses this every night.” It can be an effective tool to get resistant kids more interested in flossing.
“I always enjoy seeing what sort of interesting dental gifts are out there in the way of children’s toys, having young kids myself and maybe being a young kid at heart,” says Dr. Ruder.
One longtime favorite is Play-Doh’s Doctor Drill ’n Fill.
“I got one last year and have a couple saved away for my kids for when they get older,” says Dr. Ruder, father to a three-year-old and a four-month-old. “It’s cute, and allows kids to get a little more hands-on experience, using Play-Doh to fill some teeth on the mannequin head that they provide with it and little dental tools.”
Dr. Ruder also suggests children’s books with dental themes. “It’s always good to try to introduce the child to a dentist in a fun way rather than having this child visit the dentist for the very first time without any sort of preconceptions of it.”
Favorites include Sesame Street’s Ready Set Brush, a pop-up book featuring Elmo, as well as The Berenstain Bears Visit The Dentist, and Mercer Mayer’s dental-themed Just Going To The Dentist, part of his popular Little Critter series.
“Those are some of the classics, if you want to give your kids books, which is always a great idea,” says Dr. Ruder.
He also points out the ever-growing natural category of dental products, any of which would make a great gift for someone who values shopping more green.
“There are a lot of natural oral hygiene products that are reputable and good,” he says. “Our local co-ops carry a lot of great items.”
Another great little gift, according to Dr. Ruder, is Violight’s UV-sanitizing toothbrush carriers, ideal for frequent travelers.
Dr. Ruder jokes that he frequently gives his wife floss, as a gift.
“There’s a wall-mounted flosser from Floss-rite that my family uses. My wife loves it because you don’t have to go digging for it in the drawer; it’s right there. And you never forget to floss because it’s staring right at you,” he says with a laugh.
It comes with a large spool of floss that, Dr. Ruder can attest, will keep you flossing for years. “We just had to order a refill and it’s been five years since I got it for her.”
No AirFloss for the Ruder family? “Oh, we’re old school, we go manual,” he says, smiling.
Dr. Rowley also suggests sweet alternatives to sticky candy canes such as Dr. John’s Candies, which offers a variety of products made with Xylitol, a natural sweetener that actually inhibits cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth from causing cavities.
“They make a series of gums and suckers,” Dr. Rowley says. “They also have chocolates and other things you could give at the holidays.”
The bottom line is, these gifts help keep our loved one’s teeth healthy.
“It’s can be very important to give these sorts of gifts to reinforce oral health and keep the kids healthy – and while also, hopefully, keeping them happy,” Dr. Rowley says, laughing.
From books and healthy sweets to toys and teeth-cleaning tools, there are a variety of fun, kid-friendly holiday gift options. Consider wrapping up a few for your little ones – and maybe even the not-so-little-ones – on your list this holiday season.
Small to Tall Pediatric Dentistry
222 Lilly Road NE
Olympia WA 98506