Children love Halloween for many reasons, like getting to dress up in fun costumes and spending an evening with friends. Though for many youngsters, the most exciting part about Halloween is the massive haul of goodies they get to bring home at the end of the night. Unfortunately, eating too much candy can wreak havoc on a child’s teeth, causing tooth decay, cavities and gum disease.
At McLean DDS, we want to encourage parents to teach good oral health habits on Halloween without depriving kids of a fun-filled night. Here are a few tips to help your child have healthy teeth this Halloween and many years to come:
- Choose wisely. Chocolate candies are best, as they dissolve quickly in the mouth and minimize the amount of time sugar stays on teeth. Conversely, popular candies like taffy, caramel and suckers are especially bad for teeth. The harder varieties remain in the mouth for long periods. Chewy candies also cling to the grooves in the teeth, which increase the likelihood of cavities and tooth decay.
- Set limits on candy consumption. Parents should decide in advance how much candy their child can keep and how much he or she is permitted to eat. By setting a specific time each day for children to enjoy their candy, you can prevent continuous exposure to sugar throughout the day while teaching them that sweets should be eaten in moderation.
- Donate candy. When trick-or-treating has ended and you have sorted through all of the candy, keep a small stash and then give the rest away. There are many organizations and charities that will gladly accept your excess candies and distribute them to troops overseas or a children’s hospital.
- Don’t forget to brush. Make sure your child brushes his or her teeth at least twice a day — especially after eating sugary treats. This is one of the best ways to keep cavities at bay.
- Savor sweets at mealtimes. The best time to enjoy Halloween candy is as an after-meal treat. More saliva is produced during mealtime, which helps reduce the amount of sugar that remains on the teeth.
- Keep up with dental checkups. Regular checkups and cleanings with your child’s dentist are key to maintaining good dental health, especially in the week following Halloween. A dentist can detect and treat signs of decay and other potential problems before they become more serious issues.
You and your kids can still join in on the Halloween fun. This spooky holiday is the perfect time to start fostering good oral health practices, but don’t stop there! Take the time to encourage your kids to practice good brushing, flossing and eating habits year-round to help them develop a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. By following these simple Halloween tips, parents can ensure that this one night of the year won’t have a lasting effect on their child’s oral health.