At TrueCare Dentistry, our family dentists and support staff care deeply about our littlest patients’ oral health, and we know you, as parents, do as well! At the same time, we know you want your children to enjoy the fun and excitement that comes with spookiest holiday of the year. That’s why we created our Healthy Halloween guide, which is packed with advice designed to help you protect your family’s teeth over the next few candy-filled weeks! The following tips are family-dentist approved and will ensure your children can enjoy the holiday without ruining their beautiful smiles.
While sugary treats in general aren’t good for your teeth, chocolate is actually considerably better than sticky candy such as gummy bears, Skittles, and Starburst. That’s because those fruity candies tend to easily get stuck to and in between the teeth, as you may guessed, while chocolate actually washes off the teeth more easily. Even better? Dark chocolate, which is among the healthiest in the candy category for a number of reasons, including how easily it’s cleaned from your children’s teeth!
Give Teeth a Break
In addition to sticky candies, hard candies are the enemy of family dentists everywhere! This is because lollipops, Jolly Ranchers, and butterscotch candies all dissolve very slowly in the mouth, meaning that teeth and gums are bathed in sugar for much longer periods. What’s more, hard candies can even cause chipped or broken teeth! Limit or avoid these if at all possible.
Practice Excellent Oral Hygiene
Brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day is important for children (and parents!) throughout the year. But during the weeks following Halloween, when candy is being consumed much more frequently, good oral hygiene is essential! If your children are eight or younger, family dentists recommend that you carefully brush your children’s teeth for them (after they’ve had a turn with the brush) in both the morning and evening. You should also be helping them floss every night before bed. In addition, if candy is consumed at any other time of day, your children should brush their teeth as soon as possible after eating the treats.
Drink Plenty of Water
Family dentists always recommend our little patients drink water as much as possible. This is partly because juices, sodas, and other sugary drinks are terrible for little teeth, as you’re probably aware. But what you might not know is that water also helps to rinse the mouth clean and wash sugar and bacteria away, leaving less in the mouth to cause problems. If your tap water is fluoridated, this can also help to prevent tooth decay.
Plan It Right
Rather than snacking or grazing on candy throughout the day, have your children choose their treats purposefully at specific times. For example, you might allow them a piece of candy after lunch and another after dinner (with brushing planned after each snack session). This helps to limit how long sugars remain on the teeth throughout the day. What’s more, little mouths produce plenty of saliva during meals, which is helpful in washing away food and bacteria. Thus, eating candy right after meals can actually help prevent candy bits from sticking around longer than they should.
Let’s face it: your children don’t need six pounds of candy each. After they go trick-or-treating, have your children choose their favorites, then donate the rest. You might choose to send the candy to troops overseas through a program like Treats for Troops. You can also search for local Halloween candy buy-back programs by Googling “candy buy-back” coupled your zip code.
Chew Sugarless Gum
Can’t brush immediately after eating candy? The American Dental Association reports that “chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals helps reduce tooth decay, because increased saliva flow helps wash out food and neutralize the acid produced by bacteria.”
Mix it Up
Family dentists recommend you balance out all the sweets with plenty of good-for-you foods that support oral health. Milk and other low-sugar dairy foods are a great source of calcium, which promotes strong, healthy teeth. In particular, cheese can help to reduce the pH in your littles’ mouths, which is better for their teeth. Apples, carrots, and cucumbers are crunchy foods that can naturally clean teeth as they’re consumed. In fact, they can actually help to knock loose dental plaque and clear away bacteria.
Sweets Over Sour
Speaking of pH, sour candies in particular can really make the pH in your mouth skyrocket, which is not good for little teeth and gums. The sourer a candy is, the higher its acidity level. High acidity levels can damage the enamel on your children’s teeth, even wearing it away. And once enamel is gone, it can’t be replaced. Because enamel protects teeth, its absence leaves teeth vulnerable to decay, discoloration, and sensitivity.
Wait to Brush
An important note about eating acidic candies or other foods—if your little ones consume goodies that are high in acidity, they should wait one hour before brushing. If they brush too soon, this can actually increase the harmful effects of the acidic sweets.
Tell Us What You Think!
Now that you know how to keep your kids’ teeth healthy this Halloween, we want to hear from you! Do you have any advice for limiting the effects of the candy overload that invades your home every October? If so, please share your tips in the comments! Also, keep in mind that, with the candy rush behind you and the holidays are right around the corner, November is a great time to visit your family dentist and get your smile in tip-top shape. Contact us to make an appointment today!
Psst…remember, our Healthy Halloween tips go for you, too, parents! (Yes, we know you’re sneaking your favorites when the kids aren’t looking!) Have a happy and safe Halloween, everyone!
Exceptional Is Not Uncommon
At TrueCare Dentistry, you will experience exceptional dental care that is focused on maximum patient comfort. We offer the best chair-side manner from check-in to check-out. Contact us for an appointment or to learn more: 919.859.1330