Children’s Halloween dream — to get lots of candy — can be their parents’ nightmare. But pediatric dental experts say Halloween can be a time to teach your children good oral health habits for life, without depriving them of Halloween treats. Use Halloween as an opportunity to teach kids good dental health habits, including consumption of sweets in moderation. Here are some healthy halloween dental tips.
Healthy Halloween Dental Tips
Halloween is around the corner, which for most children means bags of free candy and easy access to all kinds of sweets. It’s also a pretty tempting holiday for adults. Here’s how you can help your family stay MouthHealthy on Halloween with our dental tips.
Stay away from things that stick
Besides how often you snack, the length of time sugary food is in your mouth plays a role in tooth decay. Unless it is a sugar-free product, candies that stay in the mouth for a long period of time subject teeth to an increased risk for tooth decay. The stickier candies, like taffy and gummy bears, also take longer to get washed away by saliva.
Chew gum that has the ADA Seal
Instead of candy, consider gum. Studies show that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals helps reduce tooth decay, because increased saliva flow helps wash out food and neutralize the acid produced by dental plaque bacteria.
Choose Candy Carefully
Avoid hard candy and other sweets that stay in your mouth for a long time. Aside from how often you snack, the length of time sugary food is in your mouth plays a role in tooth decay. Unless it is a sugar-free product, candies that stay in the mouth for a long period of time subject teeth to an increased risk for tooth decay.
Avoid beverages with added sugar
When teeth come in frequent contact with beverages that contain sugar, the risk of tooth decay is increased. Drinking optimally fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay. If you choose bottled water, look for kinds that are fluoridated.
Try and eat candy with meals
We know candy can be hard to resist, especially have all that hard work trick or treating for it! If you can, try and eat Halloween candy and other sugary foods with meals or shortly after mealtime. That’s because saliva production increases during meals and helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and helps rinse away food particles.
Candy should be enjoyed, but moderation is important. Have your child choose 15 or so of their favorites and remove the rest. Consider donating extra candy.
Perform the “safety check.”
Take a look when your child returns from trick-or-treating to ensure there are no dangerous items in their collection. Include your child in this process to explain the decisions you make and allow them to learn good habits.
Preventing Cavities in Children: Set a Treat Time
With your child, set a time of day to eat Halloween candy. This ritual “treat time” may last long after Halloween and help promote healthy thinking about treats:
- Children learn that eating sweets shouldn’t be an all-day feast. Moderation is key.
- Knowing they have a specific sweet time can help make children less inclined to think about eating sweets at other times of the day.
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