More Kids Believe in Santa Claus than the Tooth Fairy 

GLENDALE, Ariz. (Dec. 8, 2015)
- ‘Tis the season and it’s good to be Santa Claus. According to a new nationwide poll released by Delta Dental of Arizona, the jolly old elf is ahead in the polls with a key constituency, 6-12 year olds, barely outpacing the Tooth Fairy. 

The poll finds children’s belief in St. Nick is outpacing that of other magical characters known to make home visits. According to parents, 66% say their child believes in Santa Claus vs. 64% who say their child believes in the Tooth Fairy.1 Other famous characters, such as the Easter Bunny and Uncle Sam, have some convincing to do.

When it comes to what Santa brings down the chimney, moms and dads can agree with dentists that toys are preferable to treats. Rather than ban all goodies, Delta Dental of Arizona encourages moderation, especially when it comes to these common sweets:

  • Candy Canes: The temptation is to let them slowly dissolve in the mouth, prolonging the amount of time the teeth are bathed in sugar. Chomping down on them can lead to cracks or chips in teeth. Consume them quickly and carefully to limit their negative oral health impact.
  • Caramels: Caramel is the flavor of the moment, but the chewy, sticky treats are especially damaging due to their high sugar content and amount of time they stay stuck to teeth. The same goes for gumdrops and candied fruits in fruitcakes. 
  • Chocolate: A perennial favorite, chocolate dissolves quickly in the mouth, which decreases the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth. However, chocolate with fillings—such as caramel and nuts—is a lot more harmful for teeth than the plain variety.
  • Cookies: Skipping them entirely is difficult. Instead, store them away and indulge only occasionally.
  • Holiday Drinks: Eggnog, apple cider and hot chocolate are comforting, but can pack a sugary wallop—20 grams of sugar for eggnog and more than 65 grams for a fully-loaded cider with caramel sauce and whipped cream. Stick to a small serving.

“No one wants to be the Grinch about enjoying all the special experiences of the holidays, particularly when it comes to eating those tasty seasonal treats,” said Sandi Perez, PhD, vice president of community benefit for Delta Dental of Arizona. “Try to enjoy in moderation and remember to choose treats that melt or disappear quickly in your mouth. The longer teeth are exposed to sugar, the longer bacteria can feed on it and create cavity-causing acids.” 

Delta Dental of Arizona recommends following these four tips to keep holiday indulgences more tooth-friendly:

  1. Enjoy goodies as part of, or immediately following, a meal rather than snacking throughout the day. You’ll be less likely to overindulge and the increased saliva production will help wash away excess sugar and bacteria. 
  2. Stick to one small serving of a favorite drink or snack. If a sweet treat is particularly high in sugar, a small serving will be less harmful to your teeth. Remember that high-sugar diets are detrimental to oral and overall health. 
  3. Follow up indulgences by swishing around some water or chewing sugar-free gum. Doing so will help wash away sugar that might otherwise cause tooth decay.
  4. Brush with a fluoride toothpaste as soon as possible to wash away some of the sticky sugar residue. Practicing good oral hygiene will help keep your mouth clean and your teeth free of decay.

About Delta Dental of Arizona
Delta Dental of Arizona is the leading dental benefits provider in Arizona, serving more than 892,000 enrollees and more than 3,200 contracted dentists across the state. Passionate about oral health and its importance to generations of families, Delta Dental of Arizona has worked for more than 40 years to improve oral health by emphasizing preventive care and making dental coverage accessible to a wide variety of employers, groups and individuals. For more information about Delta Dental of Arizona, visit  

1 The survey was conducted by Kelton Global on behalf of the Delta Dental Plans Association between December 2, 2014 and January 2, 201 among 1,325 parents of children ages 12 and under. The margin of error is +/-2.7 percent.