Halloween means candy — and lots of it. Trick or treating is a scream, but the thought of what sugar can do to children’s teeth is frightfully haunting for parents. Fortunately, Halloween doesn’t have to end up with a trip to the dentist. So then how can your little goblins enjoy their Halloween candy without rotting tooth decay? Read on to find out how to scare cavities away.
Brush, brush, brush! Kids should be brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. In addition, have them brush immediately after eating sugary snacks. Set a timer, and have your children brush for at least three minutes with a soft bristle toothbrush. And don’t forget the equally important flossing!
Chew sugar-free gum. Chewing gum promotes saliva production, which in turn neutralizes plaque acid and aids in remineralization of tooth enamel. Chewing sugar-free gum for twenty minutes immediately after eating may help reduce the risk of cavities by as much as 40%.
Eat an apple. Apples are naturally cleansing to the teeth. Sneak one into your child’s lunchbox to help plaque disappear.
Ration Halloween candy. Just because it was collected in one night doesn’t mean it has to be eaten in a day. Avoid allowing your kids to “graze” on candy throughout the day. Each time sugar is consumed, destructive acids form in the mouth. These acids then bathe the teeth for twenty minutes before being neutralized.
Avoid hard, sticky, or sour candy. Hard candy may increase the risk of cavities because it sits in the mouth for so long. Sticky candy clings to teeth, prolonging sugar exposure. Sour or tart candies have pH levels almost as high as battery acid. Parents may wish to discard or limit these types of candies.
Give out healthy treats. This doesn’t mean you have to spoil the fun. Kids will go crazy over things like stickers, vampire teeth, temporary tattoos, and small cans of Play-Doh. And their parents will love you!
When it comes down to it, Halloween isn’t the biggest threat to your children’s teeth — it is everyday poor dental habits that pose the greatest risk. A healthy diet, regular brushing and flossing, and routine dental check-ups are the best plan for preserving those beautiful smiles!