Halloween & Your Teeth
Alright Mom’s and Dad’s, we all know that it is your child’s dream to get LOTS of candy on Halloween. But, let’s be honest, this can be a parents worst nightmare for several reasons. When your child consumes sugary food or beverages, the bacteria in the plaque on the teeth mix with the sugars in the candy to make a mild acid. This acid attacks the hard outer layer of the tooth, called the enamel. If the dental plaque isn’t removed every day by brushing and flossing, over time, the enamel gets soft and a cavity forms. The damage to the tooth depends on how much sugar goes in the mouth and how long it stays there.
In this blog post Okotoks dentist Dr. Vicki McMullen from Crystal Smiles will help teach you and your children good oral health habits for life, without depriving them of the Halloween treats that kids LOVE!
Have a game plan
Before you head out to go trick or treating, take a moment to talk to your children. It is always best to set expectations prior to going out on Halloween. Such as… How long will trick-or-treating last? How much candy will be eaten when getting home? What will be the treats-per-day limit?
Halloween Candy vs. treats
Please don’t take Trick or Treating away from your children to avoid cavities. That can send the wrong message – this could make candy more irresistible, leading to other problems.
- Sneaking treats
- eating too much candy
Let them enjoy Halloween and all its sticky, yummy goodness. Let them pick the treats that they want to most (whatever you decide together).
Get the other treats out of sight
- Donate to the food bank
- Throw them out
- Find a participating dentist office offering a candy buyback program
- Have the “Halloween Witch” visit who trades remaining candy for something like a small toy or family activity.
- Send to “operation shoebox” who sends candy to troops over seas
- Donate to Ronald MacDonald House, who gives candies to visiting patients and parents
Remember the message isn’t that “candy is bad”, but that candy and other sweets, in excess, can lead to cavities.
Set a treat time
With your child, set a time of day to eat Halloween candy. Create a ritual called “treat time” that can last long after Halloween is finished, and helps promote healthy thinking about treats.
- Remember moderation: You need to teach your children that eating sweets shouldn’t be all day
- By setting a specific “treat time” children will be less inclined to think about eating their treats at other times of the day
Remember: Frequent snackers are at a greater risk of tooth decay.
Eat a balanced meal
Healthy meals and snacks should always come before candy and treats. Send the kids trick or treating with a good healthy meal. A satisfied stomach will indulge less sweets.
Set up a brushing schedule
Sticky candy can get stuck in between teeth and cause tooth decay. Brushing and flossing after a snack is ideal, but rinsing with a glass of water after eating a sugary treat will also help wash away some of the sugars and acids.
No matter when treat time is; it is crucial to brush soon after. If it is nighttime, for example, brushing and flossing before bed will help sweep away the recent sweets. Fluoride rinses for kids also help prevent tooth decay.
Use disclosing tablets
These chewable tablets temporarily stain the plaque that builds up on teeth. Parents can use disclosing tablets to show children how well they are brushing or flossing their teeth… especially if they already have a cavity or two.
Halloween and braces
Halloween may be a source of anxiety for people with braces or parents with children who have braces, especially with all those nuts, caramels, gums, and other crunchy, sticky foods that could break that big orthodontic investment.
Make sure the person with braces (either you or your child), is taking extra care when brushing and flossing their teeth. Even if the only candies being eaten are braces-friendly.
For more information about Halloween and your teeth please check out the following websites:
Most importantly the team at Crystal Smiles would like to wish you a happy and safe Halloween!