Healthy Dental Practices for Halloween
Halloween season is a time for fun, but it also means bags stuffed with sweets. Once again kids will be stockpiling sugary snacks for the holiday season which can cause problems for kids and parents alike. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways that parents can protect their kids from overloading on sugary snacks and causing potential damage to their dental health. According to ADA dentist Dr. Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty, “It’s OK to eat that candy on Halloween but it’s important to have a plan.”
Here are the top ways to keep your teeth healthy during Halloween.
Manage Your Kids Candy
As a parent, it is important to know when and how much candy your child is consuming. By limiting the amount of candy they have, or by only allowing them to eat it at certain times during the day, you can easily control how well your child’s teeth are cleaned after snacking. When monitoring your kids’ candy, you can remove some of the more harmful options that will be discussed later such as taffy or lollipops, so that they will “run out” sooner leaving slightly better options behind. By choosing what times they can have candy, you can ensure that they are not having any late-night snacks after they have already brushed their teeth for the night. This will prevent sugar from staying on the teeth overnight which lessens risk of decay.
Watch Over Kids Daily Care
Maintaining a proper hygiene schedule is just as important as monitoring the types of sweets your child consumes. Holiday seasons are the worst times to go without brushing and flossing. Be sure to set an example by letting them see you brushing as well and be sure they are not going to sleep without performing their oral care routine.
The Most Dangerous Types of Candy
There are several types of candy that can be more dangerous than others. As with most things, the key lies in moderation and hard, sticky, sour candies are the types most important to limit.
It would be unrealistic to recommend avoiding all candy. Nobody wants a Halloween bag filled with raisins and apples! However, there are certain types of sweets that can be more harmful to your teeth than others. Sour candies in particular are extremely harmful to our teeth. The acid in sour candies makes it easy for enamel to break down quickly. Saliva helps to balance out the acidity but eating too much will still cause problems. If you do eat sour candy, be sure not to brush your teeth immediately after. Brushing your teeth while there is still acid in your mouth will spread it over your teeth instead of removing it. Be sure to wait at least 30 minutes to allow acid levels in the mouth to balance out.
Taffy, jellybeans, gummy candy and other similar sticky candies all have an incredible ability to glue itself to the surfaces of teeth. When sugary substances get stuck on teeth it increases the risk of tooth decay due to an increase in plaque buildup. Brushing properly can help to remove these sticky substances, but just as dangerous are the pieces that can get stuck in between the teeth. Before this Halloween season, be sure to teach your kids the proper way to floss their teeth to clean out these hard-to-reach places. If your child has consumed sticky candy, be sure they are brushing and flossing properly before going to sleep.
Lollipops, hard candies and jawbreakers contain not only high amounts of sugar and syrup, but also are tempting to be chewed, which can be incredibly abrasive to our teeth. Biting down on hard candy can damage enamel and possibly lead to cracking teeth.
Eat More Chocolate
While most candy can be harmful to teeth, some are better than others. Dark chocolate contains polyphenols, which studies show prevent certain sugars from turning into acid and breaking down tooth enamel. Flavonoids found in dark chocolate can also help to slow down tooth decay. Dark chocolate is also easier to clean than sticky candies like taffy. As with any other candy, it is still important to take normal oral care such as brushing and flossing. Trying to exchange one of the previous candies for a better alternative such as dark chocolate can go a long way in helping to fight back against tooth decay during the Halloween season!
Participate in a buy-back program
National buyback programs are available for Halloween candy that can provide cash, coupons, toothbrushes, and other creative exchanges to remove excess Halloween candy from kids. It is a fun way to give back and can directly help non-profit veterans organizations! Be sure to check if there is a national buyback location near you!
Drinking water is not a solution to keep teeth clean, but it can help to minimize the amount of buildup when it comes to bacteria. While trick-or-treating be sure to come prepared with plenty of water to help keep everyone’s body hydrated and mouths clean! Having your children drink plenty of water may also cause them to feel fuller – which means less snacking on candy while you are out and about! Tap water also contains fluoride which is important to maintaining healthy teeth and preventing tooth decay.
Have a Safe & Healthy Halloween!
If you follow our tips, you will be sure to have a much healthier Halloween without the need for avoiding all candy! Be sure to schedule an appointment with Dental365 after the Halloween season so our team of experienced dentists can spot problems such as tooth decay before they become a major issue. Check out any of our Dental365 locations to schedule your appointment and be sure to have a healthy and safe Halloween!