The fall season has arrived! The dropping temperatures and shorter days are undeniable signs the holiday season is right around the corner. Halloween marks the starting point of this annual season of sweets. The next few months will likely include an increase in the consumption of sweets and other treats, and therefore, more dental cavities. However, Halloween should not be a time of worry for parents.
Use Halloween as an opportunity to teach kids good dental health habits, including consumption of sweets in moderation. Here are some reminders and helpful hints to ensure you and your kids have a healthy and fun Halloween:
Give out healthier treats. Avoid giving trick-or-treaters candies that are sour (high in acidity, which erodes tooth enamel), sticky or chewy (leaves sugars directly on the teeth for prolonged periods) or hard (choking hazard for young kids and can cause tooth damage). There are many options for healthy snacks including things like cereal bars, pretzels or granola bars. Even a plain chocolate bar is a better option than sour, sticky or hard candies.
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.
Sort it out. Encourage your child to eat the healthier treats and avoid hard, sour or chewy candies like jawbreakers or caramels. These candies have high acidity and/or stick to the teeth longer, which can cause more damage.
Limit availability. Candy should be enjoyed, but moderation is important. Have your child choose 15 or so of their favorites and remove the rest.
Brush-up after consuming. Set a specific time of day for candy consumption and then have your child follow-up by brushing his or her teeth. This is much healthier than allowing your child’s teeth to be continuously exposed to sugary or acidic treats throughout the day.
Though this Halloween is a great opportunity to start employing these practices, don’t stop there! Continue to follow these recommendations throughout the year so your children can develop good dental hygiene habits while still enjoying their treats in moderation.
With all that in mind, don’t forget to brush, floss and routinely visit your dentist for check-ups. Remember, good oral health is a major contributor to overall health, so developing good dental hygiene habits will help ensure a long and healthy life for both you and your children.