On Thursday, we celebrate one of the favorite holidays for children: Halloween. Between trick-or-treating, classroom parties, and city-wide fall festivals, children are given access to an exorbitant amount of sugary sweets to eat over the course of the next few months. Parents know that eating assorted candies can be detrimental to oral health, as sugar damages teeth by causing cavities. Halloween is the perfect opportunity for parents to help their children learn healthy dental habits. Dr. Pate offers these practical tips for keeping your children’s mouths healthy on Halloween and year-round.
1. Teach Moderation
Deprivation makes candy seem more irresistible to children, which can encourage them to sneak candy later. On Halloween, allow your child to choose 5-10 small pieces of his favorite candy, and store the rest. Then, you can easily monitor the amount of candy your child eats in the weeks following.
2. Know Which Candies to Avoid
The less time sugar is in direct contact with teeth, the better. For this reason, hard candies that stay in the mouth for a long period of time can increase tooth decay. Avoid sticky or gummy candies that cling to the teeth, because they can weaken enamel. Chocolates that dissolve quickly in the mouth are a better choice.
3. Give Healthier Alternatives
Sugar-free gum is a great alternative to sugary candies because it helps combat plaque-causing bacteria. Chewing gum stimulates the flow of saliva to the mouth, which helps cleanse the teeth and remove bacteria. Also, because sugar-free gum often has a sweet taste, it can help satisfy sugar cravings.
4. Eat Candy After Meals
During meals, saliva production increases. Saliva helps rinse away food particles, and can help neutralize acids produced by bacteria from sugars in the mouth.
5. Drink Water
Water helps rinse away food particles. Bacteria thrive in a dry mouth, so water helps to stop the buildup of bacteria and plaque. Fluoridated water can actually prevent tooth decay by strengthening enamel.
6. Brush and Floss Twice Daily
Brushing and flossing are imperative to oral health. Remember to replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or as soon as the bristles begin to fray. Flossing allows you to reach between teeth, removing plaque at the gum line.
7. Maintain a Healthy Diet
At Halloween, remind children that food should be considered fuel for their daily routine. Bread, sodas, and other unhealthy foods can be just as detrimental to your oral health as sugary candy.
8. Schedule Regular Check-Ups
Regular check-ups are the best way to prevent cavities and fix dental problems before they become major issues. Your dentist can recognize problems early, taking steps to restore teeth and gums to their healthiest.
Contact Dr. Peter A. Pate at 404-266-9424 with questions or to schedule an appointment. We love to make you smile!