If your child goes out for Halloween every year, then you’ve probably heard nonstop about how excited they are now that it’s just around the corner. Halloween gives children a chance to score big in terms of sweets and chocolates, but how has that affected their oral health? Do they end up having a cavity by the end of November?
Tooth decay is common among younger individuals, especially from ages 5 to 11. Consider these tips to protect their teeth by the time a turkey is set on your table.
Know Which Candy to Eat and Avoid
Many people don’t realize that chocolate is one of the better candies you can eat on Halloween, particularly when compared to other varieties that are essentially pure sugar. While chocolate can absolutely cause tooth decay if not properly eaten in moderation, it doesn’t stay on teeth or in the mouth as long as hard candy, such as lollipops or other fruit-flavored treats.
Furthermore, candies that are sticky or gummy are more likely to get stuck in between and on teeth, therefore creating a better environment for bacteria to grow and develop. Sour candies are highly acidic, which in turn makes the mouth more acidic and more habitable for bacteria.
Consume Candy the Right Way
It’s easy to snack on candy, whether you’re a 10-year-old at school or a 35-year-old in the workplace, but what implications does this entail? Snacking on any sugar-filled foods, not just candy, can increase your risk of decay dramatically because the mouth isn’t prepared to wash it away, assuming you aren’t brushing your teeth afterwards. The best way to eat candy is directly after a meal, where saliva production is higher. This will work to wash away food debris and keep the mouth’s pH balance high. Tell your child about these types of candy and explain why it would be better to donate the more harmful varieties to non-profit organizations or dental offices.
Improve Their Diet to Counter More Sugar
Since your child is more than likely to eat lots of candy without your knowledge, it’s important that you change their diet to accommodate this new influx of sugar. That means replacing sugary beverages in their school lunch with water or unsweet tea. It means making sure they’re consuming water on a regular basis and eating foods that help clean teeth, such as sliced apples or pears. Find out which healthy foods they like the most and go from there.
Commit to Oral Health Habits
When your child is at this age, it’s a great opportunity to teach them key fundamentals for oral care. A few of these steps include:
- Brushing for at least two minutes at a time
- Brushing all tooth surfaces
- Flossing at least once a day
- Learning how to use mouthwash
- Waiting 20 minutes after eating candy to brush (some candies make enamel softer, therefore increase the risk of erosion if followed by immediate brushing)
With these tips in mind, your child will be far more prepared to enjoy Halloween and get a good dental report card afterwards. Schedule an appointment to confirm their oral health is in good shape!
About the Author
As a father, Dr. Nicholas Brong understands that protecting teeth is imperative at a young age. That’s why he works hard to provide helpful advice to parents and children alike during their dental visits. To learn more tips on protecting your oral health throughout the year, you can contact him through his website.