With Halloween only a few days away, all of the little ghouls and goblins out there have started to dream of unending waves of chocolate coated candies that will carry them away to sugar-high heaven. While kids might consider Halloween the perfect opportunity to stockpile candy for the winter like a some kind of sugar addicted squirrel, parents can use the holiday to teach children about the variety of oral health challenges they face from eating too much sugar.
So while Halloween is a great holiday that every child should get the chance to enjoy, parents need to take some precautions to make sure their child’s fun on Halloween doesn’t create problems later on with their oral health.
To help you successfully avoid the potential scares that come with free bags of candy, here are a few tips on how parents can protect their child’s oral health.
Eat Candy and Other Sugary Food with a Bigger Meal
While you’ve probably heard that sugar will rot your teeth, that old saying isn’t entirely true. Eating gobs of candy can increase your child’s risk of developing tooth decay, but fortunately some of the effects sugar has on kid’s teeth can be prevented by eating candy as part of a larger meal.
When you eat a bigger meal like lunch or dinner, your mouth begins to produce more saliva, which helps to wash away lingering food particles and debris that remain in the mouth. Saliva also helps to neutralize harmful bacteria that produces substances that erode way at tooth enamel. So when kids eat candy as part of a larger meal, less sugar remains in their mouths and less damage is done to their teeth.
Say No to Hard Candy
In addition to how much candy your kids eat, the amount of time sugary foods stay in the mouth also plays a role in tooth decay. Unless you’re kids are chomping away on a sugar-free products like gum, candies that remain in the mouth for extended periods of time increase the risk of tooth decay by providing plaque with more fuel to produce damaging acids. Better a child enjoys several pieces of candy he or she can eat quickly rather than one piece that takes several minutes for them to finish.
Avoid Sticky Candies
Candies that cling to your child’s teeth, like taffy or gummy bears, take much longer for saliva to wash out of the mouth, thereby increasing a child’s risk of decay. Most dentist think of gummy bears as little cavity causers, as each one a child eats just lingers in the little hard to reach crevices of his or her teeth for hours if not brushed away.
Have Your Kids Drink More Water
One of the best ways to offset the damage sugar causes to kids teeth is to have them drink more water when eating candy. Not only does drinking water help to flush food particles from your child’s mouth, it helps them feel full faster so they will want to eat less candy.
Avoid Sugary Drinks
Providing your child with a glass of soda or juice to wash their candy down with will not only send him or her into overload, the sugars and acids these types of beverages contain greatly increase the risk of decay.
Diet soda actually contains more harmful acids than regular brands. It’s little wonder that’s many dentist consider drinking soda similar to soaking teeth in battery acid. While that doesn’t sound very appealing, it is a fairly accurate description.
Make Sure Your Kids Practice Quality Oral Hygiene
Even though most kids mean well, it’s hard for parents to stress the importance of brushing and flossing nightly and have their kids understand. But if there was ever a time parents needed to make sure their kids are actually brushing and not just running their toothbrush under the faucet at night, it’s around Halloween.
If your kids are known to occasionally fake brushing, we recommend parents take a more hands on approach when it comes to their kids’ nightly oral hygiene routines. This could include making brushing more fun for kids by singing a song, reading a short story, or start brushing along with their kids. Anything that makes brushing and flossing seem less like a chore and more of a fun family activity will help your kids feel more excited.