For most children, and many adults, Halloween means bags of free treats and a chance to build a stockpile under the bed for later. It is no surprise Halloween can also present parents with a variety of health challenges. Many of them are oral in nature, so how do you ensure your children have a happy and healthy Halloween?
Timing of Treats
To help protect your child’s teeth this Halloween, make sure they eat a healthy meal before trick or treating. This will also hopefully decrease the amount of treats consumed while wandering the neighbourhood.
If they have any treats left over after Halloween make sure they try to limit eating them to mealtimes such as straight after dinner. Avoid snacking on treats throughout the day and set aside specific snack times. These times ideally match typical school lunch breaks at home. Saliva production increases during meals, which helps rinse away sugary food particles and can help reduce the risk of cavities.
Apart from protecting your child’s teeth from cavities, it is important to be careful of Halloween costumes that may impact dental health such as fake teeth.
Read the labels carefully to avoid any potential choking hazards. In younger children where they are losing baby teeth it is always a good idea to avoid wearing any costume fangs which might accelerate loss of these important teeth.
Try and avoid hard candy and other sweets that stay in your mouth for a long time. Apart from how often you snack on them, the length of time sugary food is in your mouth plays a major role in tooth decay. Unless it is a sugar-free product, lollies and sweets that stay in the mouth for a long period of time subject teeth to an increased risk for tooth decay.
Stay Away from Stickies
If you have ever eaten a chewy caramel you will know sticky sweets cling to your teeth, and the stickier the sweets, like Minties and Gummy Bears, the longer they take to get washed away by saliva, increasing the risk for tooth decay.
This includes soft drinks, sports drinks and flavoured waters. When teeth come in frequent contact with beverages that contain sugar, the risk of tooth decay is increased.
It is best to stay away from these types of treats and limit the number eaten.
Beware the Stash
It is tempting to keep sweet treats around the house, especially with a stockpile after Halloween, but the fact is your teeth will thank you if you limit your stash.
If your children haven’t eaten what they have collected during Halloween then decide what you will do with the leftovers. Take them to work or give them to other family members, but don’t let them lay around the house to be devoured when you are not looking.
Water is Wise
Drinking water can help prevent tooth decay by washing away any residual food in your teeth. Your body is composed of about 60% water, and drinking plenty also helps digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
It seems obvious but the foods you choose as fuel and how often you eat them affects your general health and that of your teeth and gums.
During Halloween we are bombarded by advertising and hype around the event, which invariably means we are subject to potentially more lollies and chocolates. Just like other events throughout the year such as Easter and Christmas, it is OK to treat yourself and your children, but it is also important to maintain a healthy diet to balance them out.
Brush Twice a Day
We know it is important to brush twice a day, but it is even more important during events like Halloween. Brush your teeth for two minutes with toothpaste morning and night and replace your toothbrush every three or four months. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth.
Clean Between Your Teeth
If you are eating more treats than usual during Halloween you need to be vigilant with your oral hygiene regime. Make sure you clean between your teeth once a day by flossing. Decay-causing bacteria get between teeth. These spots are hard to reach with toothbrush bristles. Flossing helps removing plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.
Visit a Coastal Dental Care Dentist
Would you like to book your child in for a dental visit to complement a healthy Halloween? Coastal Dental Care has over 13 practices across Queensland and Northern New South Wales, and all our dentists are highly trained and will do everything they can to make your child’s appointment enjoyable. Contact us or book an appointment online today.