Halloween is one the most beloved holidays for children everywhere. What kid doesn’t like getting bags and buckets full of candy? As a dentist, of course this holiday brings in a lot of questions. I’m here to tell you, not all dentists are the Scrooges of Halloween.
Dentists love candy as much as everyone else. But, we’ve seen what it can do to your teeth so we have a few tips to keep up your oral health while enjoying some treats this holiday season.
- Timing is everything. Eat candy and other sugary foods with your meal or shortly afterwards. Your saliva production increases when you eat – this will help cancel out acids produced by the bacteria that loves sugar and help rinse away food particles.
- Choose wisely. Avoid hard candies and other treats that stay in your mouth for an extended time. The longer sugary food stays in your mouth, the more decay it will cause.
- Pick your poison. Avoiding sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks, and flavored water will decrease your risk for tooth decay. So if you plan on drinking a soda, skip the candy. Sugary drinks on top of sugary foods will just compound your risk.
- Avoid sticky situations. Sticky candies with, wait for it….stick to your teeth. The stronger the sticking factor, the longer they’ll take to wash away, giving those bacteria lots of chances to feast.
- Chew on this – chewing on sugarless gum for 20 minutes after a meal reduces tooth decay. When you chew gum it increases your saliva flow and helps to wash away food and neutralize acids.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay. But even regular water will benefit your oral health. Remaining properly hydrated will ensure that you have plenty of saliva to wash away sugar and food.
- Eat right. Even when you’re not eating candy, you need to make sure that your diet is well balanced. The health of your body is directly connected to the health of your teeth.
- Brush twice a day. Two minutes at a time. And remember to replace your tooth brush when the bristles look worn.
- Get between your teeth. We can’t stop stressing how important it is to floss your teeth. Your tooth brush can’t get everywhere and sticky, chewy, nutty, candies love to hide in between your teeth.
- Come visit me! Regular check-ups and cleanings will keep your mouth nice and healthy and ready to fight any decay that might threaten when you indulge in Halloween treats!
We also have some tips for helping your kids through this season!
- Don’t deprive them! For a lot of kids being told they can’t have something will only drive them to want it more. This is when you get kids sneaking and hiding the candy. If you don’t know what their eating you can’t help to minimize the impact.
- Go through the treats together. Have them pick out a predetermined number that they want right now and help them sort out another portion that REALLY want in the future. They’ll love that you trust them.
- Out of sight, out of mind. Hide the treats they didn’t choose, donate them, or toss them.
- Teach them. Share with them the tips we gave you above and help them make good choices. Remind them that starchy foods can be as bad as sugary foods because they stay in the mouth longer.
- Set a treat time. This will teach them moderation and keep them from begging you all day long. Plus, it will allow you to give them their treat at the healthiest time.
- Have a schedule for teeth brushing. Kids like to know what to expect, especially if it’s activities that they might not find the most appealing. Make teeth brushing part of bed time and morning rituals.
According to a Delta Dental survey in 2011 over 60% of dentists surveyed gave out candy – and of those an overwhelming 79% chose to give out chocolate. Only 5% of dentists admitted to handing out toothbrushes! So we suggest you head to your dentists house because odds are good that you’ll get chocolate!