Are you stuck for Christmas gift ideas or stocking stuffers? Dental gifts show your loved ones that you care by helping them to care for their teeth and gums.
Check out these 8 fun and practical gift ideas for kids and adults alike, and help your family take great care of their oral health in the new year.
If your child needs a little help or encouragement to brush their teeth, an electric toothbrush could do the trick. While manual toothbrushes can remove just as much plaque as electric toothbrushes when used properly, electric versions can be easier for some children to use, and may be recommended by dentists if kids show signs of tooth decay or cavities.
What’s more, electric toothbrushes can make oral hygiene more fun for reluctant brushers. Shopping around, you might find brushes featuring their favourite characters or advanced options that play music or sound effects. As well as making brushing more appealing, these can help kids to brush for the correct amount of time or guide their brushing to make sure they’re brushing every part of the mouth.
Electric toothbrushes aren’t just for kids, of course. It’s recommended that you change your toothbrush heads every three months, just as you would a regular toothbrush.
If you didn’t know flossers could be electric too, an electric or water flosser could be the ideal gift for someone who’s reluctant to floss every day, recommended as part of a good oral hygiene routine.
These are handheld devices that use jets to gently spray water onto the teeth. This works in a similar way to traditional floss, cleaning between the teeth to help remove plaque and trapped food from hard-to-reach areas.
Water flossers can be more comfortable than standard floss for people with braces or dental restorations such as a bridge. If your family prefers manual floss, you can look for floss in special festive flavours to help set the holiday mood.
Tooth brushing toys
The Australian Dental Association (ADA) recommends that parents should start brushing their children’s teeth as soon as they appear, and continue to provide support until children are old enough to use a toothbrush themselves, usually by the age of 7 or 8.
If you have children, grandchildren or nieces and nephews who are learning how to brush their teeth, tooth brushing toys could help to encourage them. These can be as simple as cuddly toys that hold their toothbrush for safe keeping or interactive toys that coach kids in the right way to brush their teeth.
Children should have their first dental visit by the age of 1 year old, or within 6 months of their first tooth appearing. Getting children used to visiting the dentist from a young age can help to make dental care a normal part of their routine for life, and dental toys could improve this familiarity even further.
Whether your kids love plasticine, playsets or dressing up, they can have fun playing dentist and learning about oral health at the same time.
As well as being cute and comfortable, tooth pillows could help to make children feel more comfortable about their baby teeth falling out.
These pillows are available commercially from stores, handmade by online sellers, or can be made at home if you love to knit and sew. Add a front pocket and hang it on your child’s door so they’ll have a place to store their tooth ready for the tooth fairy (or mum and dad) to pay a visit.
If your child wants to know more about their teeth, or you want to teach them, there are plenty of books out there that can make learning fun.
One of the best-known tooth books is by favourite children’s author Dr Seuss, appropriately named ‘The Tooth Book.’ This shows children the different types of teeth in nature and how to look after their own.
Another ‘The Tooth Book’ by Edward Miller is full of tooth facts, history and advice, and will likely educate older readers too.
Anyone who plays contact sports such as rugby or hockey, or other sports where there’ a risk of impact or injury to the mouth, should wear a sports mouthguard. The ADA, Sports Medicine Australia and other authorities recommend custom-fitted mouthguards provided by a dentist, which offer greater protection for the teeth and jaws.
Rather than buying a cheap boil-and-bite mouthguard, treat your child or other sports fan to a custom mouthguard by arranging an appointment with their dentist. They’ll check that their teeth and gums are healthy and take impressions (moulds) of their teeth that can be used to make a mouthguard that fits exactly, available in the colour of their choice.
What do you get for someone who already takes great care of their teeth? If your partner, friend or another adult you know over 18 has talked about wanting to change their smile, you can find out what cosmetic dental treatments your dentist offers and treat them to a smile makeover.
Teeth whitening kits, strips and toothpastes bought from stores are not recommended by authorities such as the ADA, as these treatments should be carried out under the guidance of a qualified professional. This may involve in-chair whitening performed by a dentist or at-home whitening following a dentist’s instructions, and using custom trays to improve the chance of a successful outcome.
Teeth whitening treatments aren’t for everyone, however, as they can’t remove certain types of stains or discolouration and won’t lighten dental restorations such as crowns or fillings. Other cosmetic treatments offered by dental clinics may include:
- porcelain veneers fitted over the front of teeth to alter their appearance
- gum lifts to help reshape the gums and correct a ‘gummy smile’
- cosmetic injections to help tighten the skin or add volume to the face or lips.
Even when performed by a professional dentist, all cosmetic dental treatments involve some degree of risk. They also won’t be covered by health funds like other dental treatments. Dentists will make sure patients understand this, so they can make an informed decision. These treatments can only be provided to people with good oral health who don’t have an existing problem such as gum disease.
Talk to our dentists in Melbourne
With the holidays coming up, make sure your family’s teeth and gums are healthy for the new year by booking a check-up or treatments with our dentists near Melbourne CBD.
 Australian Society of Orthodontists. Electric or manual toothbrush? [Online] 2017 [Accessed August 2018] Available from: https://www.aso.org.au/electric-or-manual-toothbrush
 American Dental Association. Water Flossing [Online] 2017 [Accessed August 2018] Available from: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/w/water-flossers
 Australian Dental Association. Kids [Online] 2016 [Accessed August 2018] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/Your-Dental-Health/Children-0-11/Kids
 Australian Dental Association. Mouthguards [Online] 2017 [Accessed August 2018] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/Your-Dental-Health/Teens-12-17/Mouthguards
 Australian Dental Association. Whitening, Crowns and Veneers [Online] 2017 [Accessed August 2018] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/Your-Dental-Health/Younger-Adults-18-30/Teeth-Whitening,-Crowns-and-Veneers