Halloween is a favorite time of the year for children of all ages. Getting to dress up as their favorite cartoon or movie character, setting up spooky decorations, and best of all, going door to door collecting sugary treats – this time of year is a blast! The reward that children look most forward to is a bag of candy, such as chocolates, gummy worms, and candy bars.
Parents often wonder how all that sugar will affect their young ones’ teeth. In this blog post, leading family and pediatric dentist Thomas E. Cooke, DDS, of Raleigh, North Carolina will share some tips on helping your children establish great oral hygiene habits this Halloween season.
Oral Hygiene Tips for Parents
Now that your children have collected their gooey, yummy, sugary treats, what happens to their teeth? Some of the oral health tips parents can share with their kids include:
- Rinsing the mouth out with water after consuming sugary candies. This helps to eliminate any lingering bits of candy and sugar particles, helping preserve those youthful smiles.
- Avoiding chewy candies, or keeping the consumption of those candies to a minimum. Chewy, sticky candies take longer to chew, extending the amount of time the sugar is in contact with teeth and increasing acid production in the mouth. Over time, all this excess sugar and acid can wreak havoc on children’s (and parents’) teeth. A couple sticky treats on Halloween night is ok – just don’t overindulge!
- Establishing the importance of good brushing and flossing habits, not just at Halloween, but throughout the year. Explain to your children that many people eat excess candy and sugar during this time of year, and that can affect the health of their teeth and gums. Taking care of their teeth will help their pearly whites last as long as possible. Getting your kids to brush their teeth at least two times a day creates a great foundation for oral health. For young ones, help them with flossing, especially after consuming candies. This helps remove sugar particles that may become trapped between teeth.
- Time your children’s candy consumption to coincide with meals or just after meals. The mouth produces extra saliva at mealtimes, and this saliva can neutralize harmful acids that eat into tooth enamel.
Even More Halloween Oral Health Tips
In some neighborhoods, children will wind up with an abundance of candy on Halloween. Snacking on candies throughout the course of the day is a bad idea, especially when teeth are concerned. All that sugar can accelerate tooth decay. If you find that you have too much candy, look for charitable organizations in your area to donate the excess to. Some dental clinics may have a candy “take-back” program you can take advantage of.
Finally, regular dental checkups and oral cleanings are a must. Children need to understand that their teeth must last them a lifetime. Routine checkups and cleanings should be conducted at least two times a year. An experienced family dentist can help your children take care of their teeth while providing cleanings and other treatments. The end result is a healthy set of teeth and gums. Take care this Halloween season!