Now that the Halloween season is upon is, children everywhere are getting excited about selecting their costumes and heading out into the neighborhood to collect all sorts of tasty treats. While it is certainly true that an excessive amount of candy can cause tooth decay and other dental problems, there is no need to forbid the seasonal goodies altogether.
Denying youngsters treats entirely is almost certain to lead to a heightened desire to sneak them behind your back! This, in turn, can cause them to overdo it anytime they are in proximity to unhealthy snacks. The following paragraphs can help you manage the dental dangers posed by Halloween while still ensuring that everyone has an enjoyable time.
Some of the worst Halloween treats, at least from an oral health perspective, are those that are sticky and/or chewy in nature. This category includes things like taffy, gummies, and dried fruit mixes. Items such as these can be difficult to dislodge from the teeth, and saliva tends to be insufficient to clear them out fully.
Though very popular among youngsters these days, sour candies are also problematic due to their high acidity, something which can degrade tooth enamel. If there is any good news, it is that saliva can work to re-calibrate the pH level of the mouth. As such, if your children eat anything that is especially acidic or sour, it is best to delay tooth brushing at least 30 mintues. Any earlier than that, and there is the risk that the acids will be distributed to additional teeth, increasing the likelihood of enamel erosion.
Though certainly well-loved by virtuall all trick-or-treaters, things like cookies, candy corn, and the like all contain high amounts of sugar, and this can lead to acidity known to produce cavities. As such, these should be limited as much as possible.
There are, however, some Halloween goodies that are beneficial from an oral health standpoint. Hard candies and sugar-free suckers are great for stimulating saliva production. When this happens, the mouth stays moist and does not dry out, something which can facilitate tooth decay. Gum that is designated as sugar-free has the ability to pull food particles out of tooth crevices, and it also boosts salival production, which again, is beneficial for the reasons described above.
A sound strategy for minimizing the damage done by Halloween treats is to consume them at a specified time of day, rather than eating them at all hours. The longer acids and sugars are present in the mouth, the greater the risk of decay. As such, try to determine a defined time frame in which your kids can have some of their Halloween haul, and cut things off after that point each day.
Another great idea is to use Halloween as a calendar signpost for the replacement of toothbrushes. Allow your kids to select options they find appealing and which will motivate them to brush often. It is best for kids to brush twice daily for no less than two minutes per session and floss once daily as well. Parents need to assist children younger than age 8 with the brushing process, and even that, it is wise to supervise so that strong oral hygiene habits are established and then reinforced. In addition, make certain that older children are provided with toothpaste that contains fluoride in order to get the very best protection against cavities.