This time of year, trees begin to turn to lush, fall colors and every October many parents and families begin to prepare for another favorite children’s holiday: Halloween, what a treat! Whether you walk door to door with your Children or attend school harvest parties, the excitement of dressing up and collecting piles of free candy is quite a fun ordeal. But, what kind of trick is being played? As fun as Halloween may be, it also presents parents with some health and safety challenges.
The American Dental Association has prepared some suggestions to help you maintain good oral health for your children around the Halloween holiday and throughout the year, and we’re going to share our own spin!
What you can do…
It is ideal if Halloween candy and other sugary foods are consumed with meals, rather than snacks. As you sit down for dinner with your family, you can allow your child to have a few pieces of candy following their dinner, as a dessert. More Saliva is produced with meals than snacks, helping to rinse food particles from the mouth and neutralize plaque acid. For example, slowly snacking on Halloween candy every few hours, day after day, keeps teeth bathed in cavity‐producing acid, which leads to cavities. When a few candy bars are eaten at once, acid builds up in the mouth, but saliva will neutralize this acid over the course of an hour or so and then the acid is gone. But if one candy bar is eaten every half hour, acid is constantly being produced and it overwhelms the amount of saliva that can wash it away.
Consider chewing sugarless gum after meals, as accepted by the American Dental Association. Certain sugarless gums have earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance for scientifically proving that chewing the gum for 20 minutes after meals helped prevent tooth decay. Some of these gums include: Wrigey’s Orbit for Kids Sugar Free gum and Dentyne Ice Sugarfree Gum.
What to avoid!
Avoid hard, sticky candies that linger in your child’s mouth which subjects teeth to prolonged acid attack, increasing the risk for tooth decay. Examples of these include: Jolly Ranchers and suckers. The stickier candies, like taffy, tootsie rolls, and gummy bears, take longer for saliva to wash away. These candies adhere to teeth longer than something like soft chocolate, which easily washes away with saliva or rinsing. Limiting the time these candies spend in your child’s mouth or avoiding them altogether is a good step in reducing tooth decay.
Drinking more water helps reduce the amount of food and bacteria that sits on your child’s teeth. Take a bottle of water with you when your trick-or-treat and encourage them to drink.
Consuming optimally fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay. If you choose bottled water, check the label for the fluoride content.
Encourage your child to brush their teeth twice a day with an American Dental Association-accepted fluoride toothpaste. Replace toothbrushes every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth or your child’s. Flossing daily also helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line. Decay-causing bacteria still linger between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Good habits for oral hygiene are most successfully established by your own example.
Though candy during the Halloween season is a classic favorite among children, another option would be to switch out candy for non‐sugar treats. Find inexpensive alternatives such as: small bags of pretzels; stickers and temporary tattoos; mini‐cans of play dough; toothbrushes; pencils and erasers; plastic decoder rings; and bouncing balls. You can create a trading game with the children when they return from trick or treating, where they hand over candy in exchange for these types of non‐candy items that you provide them. You can also trade hard, sticky candies for these items or simply exchange for soft chocolate candy that will not linger in their mouth and increase the risk of cavities and tooth decay.
Halloween is a special time for children to dress up as fun characters and collect their favorite treats. With these ideas, you can make this time exciting for your child and less challenging to their oral health! Let these tricks keep your Halloween a treat!
source: “The trick to Maintaining Healthy Teeth.” thekiddsplace.com The Kidds Place Oct. 21st, 2013. Web. Nov. 3rd, 2017.
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